Mark: Hi, it’s Mark, I'm here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, and we're talking cars. How are you doing this morning, Bernie?
Bernie: Doing very well. We’re talking trucks today.
Mark: A truck, yes. Well, a van, if we want to be very specific. It's a 2009 Ford E350, pretty heavy duty van. What was going on with this vehicle?
Bernie Pawlik: So, this is a 6-litre diesel van, so yeah, very heavy duty. The owner had a couple of complaints. Sometimes, so an intermittent condition, the engine would idle kind of surging, up-and-down, and occasionally, on very rare occasions, he'd go to accelerate. The vehicle just wouldn't accelerate. There was no power. Those were his two concerns.
Mark: All right. That sounds a little difficult to diagnose. What tests did you do and what did you find?
Bernie: So, we started our testing with a road test and went out for a very extensive road test and, of course, things that often happen, nothing occurred. It actually ran like a dream. So, the check engine light was on.
We connected our scan tool, found only one trouble code stored. P0299, which is a turbo boost, turbo under boost code. That's not the exact definition, but that's the flavour of what that code's all about. Basically, the vehicle's detecting that there's enough boost pressure in the system under the conditions that it's supposed to occur.
So, from that, we were able to do some tests on the vehicle. We were able to do some, they're called bidirectional tests. We can actually run the turbo actuator.
This is a variable geometry turbo. There's an actuator. Sometimes, these actuator blades will stick in these turbos. They get gummed up over time with carbon deposits. They'll stick or they'll just wear out, so we're actually able to do tests. We can change the actuation of the turbo to see if it actually works.
What we found is that there were certain conditions where the actuator would stick. So, the solution was to replace the turbo charger on this vehicle.
Mark: So, you talked about the turbo and mentioned the variable geometry, which is very complicated. What does all that mean?
Bernie: Why don't get just get into some pictures? What I will say, before we just look at the pictures, is the way turbo chargers work is basically it's a turbine. It's driven by the exhaust of the vehicle. The exhaust is basically, it's wasted energy. It just goes out the tailpipe, but if you put a turbine in the exhaust because there's a lot of flow-and-pressure. The turbo charger actually pressurizes the air going into the cylinders, and that gives a lot of extra horsepower. So, it's actually an amazing increase in efficiency and power, so that's why turbo chargers are used. Now, in the olden days, the turbo charger was a basic item. It was basically the blades spin and the compressor, it basically compresses the air, but it would sort of be optimized for one engine speed and usually that was for higher pressure. If you've ever driven an older car, I'll give you an example. I had a client with a 1980 Saab turbo. It's a real neat car. You push your foot down on the gas. The vehicle would kind of accelerate a bit, and then, all of a sudden, about one or two seconds later, it'd be like someone lit a rocket and the car would just take off. That would be basically how turbos used to work a long time ago and that's called turbo lag, because it basically took some time for the turbo to spool up to the speed. What engineers have done and they've found ways around that because really, when you press the gas pedal, you want instant response. So, a variable geometry turbo takes care of that. It changes the shape of the chamber on the exhaust side, so when the engine's idling at low exhaust flow, you'll get a lot of turbo boost. When it's up at high speed, you'll also get a lot of turbo boost. So, overall, you don't really feel the turbo lag. It's still there subtlety. If you ever drive a super charge engine versus a turbo, you'll notice the difference, but normally nowadays, you almost never feel turbo lag in a car. It's pretty much gone, car or truck.
So, that's a little bit about how turbos work, so let's get in some pictures of a variable geometry. I have some pictures of this turbo and then I've also got some pictures of a slightly larger truck turbo where it's actually cut away and you kind of see the inside of it, which is pretty cool.
This is our 6-litre Ford turbo taken apart. This is what creates the variable geometry turbo. This is the turbine blade on the exhaust side, so this is driven by the exhaust and this is the variable geometry portion. These fingers here basically form a different size chamber depending on which way this ring here rotates.
This is kind of the turbo taken apart in two halves. The actual actuator, I think, I believe, is in here somewhere. It's actually controlled on this engine by oil flow. So that's basically what this looks like. You can see there's a lot of soot, carbon deposits, and wear inside this. This is our old turbo.
So, here again is another close-up of the actuator. I'll call them actuator pieces. I know there's a much more technical term for it, but it's early in the morning, so.
This is just a view of the front blades of the turbo charger. You can see there's a little bit of wear here. This is where the air comes in. There's obviously sometimes a little dirt or soot or whatever comes in, so there's a little bit of wear on these turbine blades.
This is the new turbo. You can see there's none whatsoever. It's all clean except for a greasy fingerprint. Then, let's have a look at the cutaway of the actual VGT turbo system. This is actually a cutaway. This is a larger ... This is off of a ...
We have a 14-litre truck. It's a full-sized truck motor. So, this turbo is a bit bigger than what you'd find in a 6-litre Ford, and it works a little differently, but really gives you kind of a good view.
This is the exhaust side of the turbo and this is the intake side, so the air comes in here. It's compressed by this blade as it spins really fast and actually comes in this way and gets blown out this direction.
This is an air intake temperature sensor. There's also, on this vehicle, a sensor. I believe that's a turbine shaft speed sensor, so it'll actually measure the speed of how fast the turbo's going, so the vehicle computer can make adjustments.
This is where the variable geometry control is on this. This is the actual actuator for the variable geometry turbo, one of the parts of it anyways. This would be where the exhaust flows in and out.
Mark: How fast does this turbine spin?
Bernie: Some of these are like 30 or 40,000, maybe even 50,000 RPMs. I mean, they're really, really fast. Yeah, maybe even a bit faster. I mean, it's going like insane speeds. I'm going to look at a couple of other cutaway views here.
So, this is again, this is on the intake side of the turbo. Again, the air is sucked in here and pushed out in that direction. You can see the air intake sensor and then the exhaust end of the turbo there. Then, as our final photo, this is a close kind of view of, again, you can see these variable geometry pieces. There are a little different then what was on the 6-litre. This one works slightly differently, but the effect is the same, so they'll change the size of this chamber, so depending on how much exhaust pressure there is, it'll make the turbo more effective boosting the intake side and that is our picture show.
Mark: So, you replaced the turbo because the variable geometry wasn't working properly?
Bernie: Yeah, exactly. The actuator blades would stick. So, interestingly enough, I think the next question we have is, how did it work? The answer is, it worked great. We re-tested it. The actuator was all operating exactly like it was supposed to. Road tested, it was great, but a few days' later, the owner came back and the issue was, there was still a similar issue going on with the surging idle and lack of power and we spent the better part of a week and a bit, really looking over it, testing fuel pressures. Sometimes, these codes, like, unless the issue is happening while we're looking at the car, it's hard to exactly say what's going on and we need to fix the obvious things first. In this case, the turbo was bad, but there were a few other issues.The EGR valve had a lot of soot. The intake was plugged. We cleaned that. The issues still continued after that and we road tested it for quite a long time, and I think it was probably some carbon deposits in the engine that were causing it to misbehave, from time-to-time. Anyways, to make a long story short, at this point in time, it's working fine. So, the turbo's good. The intake's clean. We tested the low pressure side fuel system because that's another cause of this issue and it was good all the way through. Interesting thing with this truck, it's very low mileage, about 85,000 kilometres on a ... It's an '09. That makes it a nine-year-old vehicle. It's not a lot of mileage. It's a tradesman's vehicle. He'll drive his office to a job site, work all day and come back, so it doesn't really get the heat that it could use. As I mentioned before, for diesels, it's really important to get out and get these things hot and cooking hot, otherwise, it ends up creating things like plugged EGRs, turbo, actuator failure, things like that.
Mark: From carbon deposits from …
Bernie: Yeah, carbon.
Mark: Not the heat, not being hot enough, basically.
Bernie: Yeah. Yeah, heat and long ... Driving cycles and driving it hard is actually really good for a diesel. It's what they're meant for. They're meant for ... That's why they're in train locomotives. You can run it at full power for an hour and then the engine ... Or, an hour or two, hauling cars up a mountain, tons-and-tons of train, loads up mountainsides or trucks. It's meant to be worked hard, so a diesel that isn't worked hard, tends to have problems.
Mark: So, didn't Ford stop making the 6-litre a few years ago?
Bernie: Yeah. Like 2007 was the last year they put them in the pickup trucks, but they still used them in vans up to the 2010 model year. So, yeah, they used them a little longer in the vans.
Mark: And, do these engines in vans still have all the problems that they had in pickup trucks?
Bernie: Well, they pretty much do have the same issues, but I have noticed that the vans seem to be a little less problematic. That's just my own experience. I think it's because they don't get used quite as hard as they do ... Here I'm saying, get a diesel and work it hard, but also with these 6-litres, the interesting thing is a lot of head gasket failures and things. A lot of those have happened too because I think they can't quite handle the hard work that they're supposed to. Again, I'm kind of speculating, but I think, we've never done a head gasket job on a van yet. Now, I know they still go, but I think they just don't get quite worked as hard. People don't quite haul the heavy loads that they do in pickup trucks. That's just my own interpretation. There's probably someone out there, who'd say otherwise, but they seem to be just a little more reliable, which is a good thing because it's a lot more work to do and a lot of the operations on a van are a lot worse than they are on a pickup truck, especially head gaskets.
Mark: It's not as easy to take the body off.
Bernie: No, lifting the body off is a little more work than a pickup cab, but not a huge amount. It's just a bigger beast.
Mark: So, there you go. If you have a diesel vehicle in Vancouver that you need maintenance or repair for, the guys to call are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. They're diesel experts or you can check out their website, pawlikautomotive.com. YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair. Hundreds of videos including many about diesel repairs as well as thank you so much for listening to our podcast and thank you, Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks, Mark. Thank you for watching and listening. We appreciate it.
Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert here with the Pawlik Automotive Podcast. I'm the producer of our cast, our videos, our stuff. We do the websites. We do all kinds of stuff. We're here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. How are you this morning, Bernie?
Bernie: I'm doing very well.
Mark: Kind of got lost there for a minute. We're gonna talk about a 2002 Audi A6. What was going on with this fine German automobile?
Bernie: This vehicle came to our shop. The owner was complaining of a loss of coolant. Not huge, but over time it was leaking coolant, so that was the client's complaint, coolant loss.
Mark: What tests did you do to find a loss of coolant?
Bernie: There's a couple ways we can test the cooling system. The way we generally ... Besides a visual inspection to verify a leak, which we can do under the car and on top, is a pressure test. What a pressure tester does, it actually puts the cooling system under pressure, same as what occurs when the engine actually warms up. The way a car cooling system works is it's a pressurized system. There's a sealed cap, which will blow off if the pressure exceeds a certain amount. Usually it's about 16 pounds per square inch, Psi. Some engines are a bit lower, some are a bit higher, but that's sort of the average. The pressure tester basically puts the ... We can put it under that level of pressure, and that'll force coolant out of the system. The thing with a coolant leak is, again, when the engine's cold, there's no pressure, so there may not be a leak. Sometimes there is a leak when there's no pressure, and then when it pressurizes, there's a leak. It's kind of odd the way cars work. Generally speaking, the more pressure you have, the easier the leak will occur. So we pressurize the system and then look for leaks. Sometimes it'll take a matter of seconds if it's a large leak. Other times, we've had vehicles where we pressurize it. An hour later, we look, can't see a leak. Leave the pressure tester on. Next morning, we come into the shop and there's drips on the floor and go, "Ah, that's where it is." Sometimes it's quick, sometimes it takes a while. There is one other test we do, and that is for combustion gas leakage if we suspect a cylinder head problem, but that wasn't the case in this vehicle. The only testing we did on this was a pressure test.
Mark: And what did you find?
Bernie: What we found was there was a leak under the intake manifold around the back of the engine, which required further disassembly. What we did eventually find was the auxiliary water pump, which is located underneath the intake manifold, was leaking. That was the major cause of our leak. With Audis, there's so many hidden bits and pieces. This is true of a lot of cars nowadays. There's coolant pipes that run in various spots that are hidden under the intake manifold, under covers. There's a lot that often needs to be removed just to find a leak. But that's what we found on this car. Auxiliary water pump was leaking.
Mark: What was involved with repairing these components?
Bernie: A lot of disassembly. It's a lot of work. The other thing we did was replace the heater hoses as well. Let's just get into a bit of a picture show here.
Mark Bossert: Go to the pictures.
Bernie: Yes. The pictures. If you open the hood of this Audi A6, it's a V6 bi-turbo engine, which right away tells you there's a lot of stuff under the hood. There are two turbocharges hidden, one on each side buried way down, almost impossible to see.
This is basically the engine cover, the air intake pipe on the top, covers over the battery, plastic covers around the ... There's a lot of covers.
This is what we found once we removed the covers. The intake manifold, and that's the auxiliary water pump. This is located brilliantly, right in one of the hottest areas of the engine underneath the intake manifold. Obviously not a bad spot, because the car's a 2002 and it's 2018 right now, so that's a good 16 years of use and it's just started to leak. It possibly could be a better spot, but that's why it's there.
The other item I mentioned we replaced were the heater hoses, and I'll show you a picture in a minute. The heater hoses run from this area here. They run beside the battery, underneath the firewall here, through a tube, and they terminate somewhere way under here that you can't even see. Again, just for perspective, this is with the cover on. This is with everything removed. You can see there's a lot that's changed.
Now heater hoses. The heater hoses were not leaking, but we did this as a maintenance item. While we were working on the vehicle, we noted that the heater hoses were quite swollen. If you look, this is a brand new hose here, and this is the old hose here. Just take a minute to look at it. You can see where this clamp goes, how the rubber is much larger here. It's much larger in diameter here. By the way, that cut was just done for removal purposes. But you can see the whole hose itself is quite a lot larger. Wasn't leaking, but when a hose gets like this, the rubber's deteriorated really badly, and it's only a matter of time before it blows.
Mark: It looks like a good bratwurst.
Bernie: It does, exactly. Very good. Yeah, so anyhow, that's ... Yeah. That's our hose. Again, this is basically done as a preventative maintenance. Definitely extra labor to do it, but while we had the intake manifold off, made a lot of sense because it saved the client quite a few hours of labor, hence money.
Mark: These are complex vehicles, Audis. We've talked a lot about Audis, and they always are complex, so that means it's expensive and somewhat complicated to repair. Is it still worth it at this age?
Bernie: I think so. It largely depends on how the vehicle's maintained and who the owner is and how you take care of it. We've serviced this vehicle for quite a few years now. Previously, all the service they did on it was pretty up-to-date. When you keep a vehicle in good shape, it's just a matter of repairing the items as you go. Yes, they are expensive to repair. It's also an expensive car to replace. This particular model, the A6 with the 2.7 turbo was not a cheap model in its day. Again, calculating the cost of repairs, if you look at it over a period of a year and you think, "Well, say I spent $5,000 in a year." Most people think, "Oh, that's a lot of money." But you think a lease payment on a car like this, probably $1,000 a month. That puts you about $12,000 a year. Yes, you do have the benefit of a brand new car, but for about a third of the price, you can maintain an old one and take care of it. I think it's a good way to go. Either way with a car, it's money out the door whether you're making monthly payments, whether you're saving money and you buy the car cash, or whether you're repairing it and maintaining it. It's money out the door. You just gotta look and see how much it is.
Mark: That's one way to amortize or look at your car repair costs then, I guess.
Bernie: Yeah, exactly. I've had, interestingly, conversations with people where they ... "Oh, the car's worth $4,000. I don't wanna spend two on it 'cause that's half the value." I'm thinking, "What does that have to do with it?" It's really about looking at how much money's actually going out the door, 'cause no matter what you do, money is gonna have to go out the door. If you keep it in good shape and take care of it, it'll be better overall. I think it's important to just kinda calculate your overall costs. Of course if you buy a new car, which is fantastic to have, the insurance costs are higher on a newer car than an older one. I don't know. It's a matter of just crunching the numbers, looking at it, seeing if it works. Of course if your car's in the shop every month for a breakdown, that's not very good either. There comes a time and place where it's time to retire a car, but in the case of this Audi, the mileage is still fairly low. The owner takes pretty good care of it. They're able to part with it for a few days every once in a while to do some maintenance and repairs.
Mark: Speaking of the Audi A6, how was it after the repairs?
Bernie: Yeah, really awesome. No further coolant leaks. Again, with those heater hoses replaced, we prevented a further unexpected repair. We could've left those. But somewhere down the road those hoses are gonna burst, and it'll be driving down the highway or driving down the road somewhere where you're on your way to a meeting. This is what we like to do at our shop, is find those kind of things and prevent them from happening. That's the whole key to preventative maintenance is fixing it beforehand. And it's cheaper and less stressful.
Mark: So there you go. If you need service for your fine German automobile 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, 'cause they're busy. Or check out their website, PawlikAutomotive.com. We have hundreds of videos on YouTube. Check us out there. Or thank you so much for listening to the podcast, and thank you, Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks, Mark, and thanks for watching.
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Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert. We're here with Bernie Pawlik, doing the Pawlik Automotive Podcast talking about cars. How are you doing this morning Bernie?
Mark: You're doing well, that's excellent. So we're talking about a 2004 Ford F-450 that had a manual transmission repair. What was going wrong with this vehicle?
Bernie: This vehicle was towed to our shop with actually a different issue, the engine wouldn't run, it wouldn't start. So we diagnosed that, repaired the issues, got the vehicle running quite nicely and were out on a road test and during the road test, it's a six speed manual transmission, the transmission shifter just jammed up between third and fourth gear. Took a lot of coercing to finally get it to move out of that jammed position, we were able to limp the vehicle back to our shop, and of course the transmission at that point needed repairing. You could hear some pretty horrific noises going on. It's something that while we were driving, it had just broken inside the transmission. So that's basically what was happening.
Mark: What did you find?
Bernie: Well it's interesting, we can have a look at some pictures. To start with, we had to remove the transmission to take it apart, but we started by just draining the oil out and having a look at it. I'll just share some photos right here.
So this a close-up view of our transmission oil pan, sorry our drain pan, and we drain the oil and this vehicle uses a DEXRON ATF fluid for the transmission. If you look in here, all these little things these are all particles of metal. This should just be ... This is the black, sort of, ribs of the pan, this is the red fluid and all these little blocks, or all these little speckles, are all pieces of brass and metal in the bottom of the transmission. You don't want to see that. That indicates something's broken and let go. This is a picture, there's a magnet. When we took the transmission apart, there's a magnet in the bottom of the transmission to catch metal filings. Now this is a picture of the magnet cleaned up, this is what it should look like if there's no metal. But this is what it looked like when we took the pan out, when we took the transmission apart. You can see there's a lot of metal here, but also a very distinct piece here. This is actually a part of a circlip that actually snapped, and this was part of the problem with the transmission. The piece of circlip actually ended up stuck onto this magnet. Now there's a picture of the transmission assembly. It's an F-450, so this is a medium sized truck, dual rear wheels, it's pretty big. It's pretty tough, and incredibly heavy transmission, incredibly large. Built for what it was meant to, built for hauling heavy things. This is the transmission assembly sitting on the ground. This would be the first gear over here, and the main gear set is inside the transmission. With it being a six speed, it's got gears outside and sort of on either side of the centre of the case. This is one of the Synchro, the shift collars. We'll just go to one last picture to the inside of the transmission. So this is the actual main gear cluster being removed. We actually use a crane to remove it, because it's that heavy. But the problem was actually, and unfortunately for some reason I didn't take any pictures of the actual damage, but that circlip actually sat inside this area here. We didn't see that until we actually took the shifter rods off, and dismantled the transmission. But inside here, these are called the Synchro's and they basically, this is what allows a manual transmission to actually shift without having to double clutch, like you would've had to do in the 50's, way back when shifting a manual transmission was a lot of work, required a fair bit of skill and timing. Recently transmissions with synchromesh, you just push the clutch down and you can shift gears. This mechanism allows that to happen. As I say, the problem was in here. There's a shaft, and a piece, and the gear that's basically held together by the clip, and the clip broke apart, and that's what caused this whole mechanism to jam up. So that was right here. This is by the way fourth gear, third gear, second gear, first gear, and then you have your overdrive gears up here. So that's our pictures.
Mark: What did you have to replace to get the unit running and reliable again?
Bernie: We basically replaced the input shaft. You know what, I can actually just go back to this picture again. You see the transmission again?
Bernie: So this whole shaft here with this gear, we replaced that piece. We replaced this Synchro mechanism, which is located behind this ring here. That ring, this round piece here, and everything inside there was replaced because it was damaged. Other than that bearings, which is a normal thing to do whenever you do a transmission overhaul, very surprisingly were in pretty good shape on this transmission. But it would be silly not to replace them when you have to take everything apart, if a bearing fails down the road then you have to do the whole job over again. So the bearings, replaced the bearings. We replaced all the Synchro rings, which are these small rings located here. They tend to wear over time. And all the gaskets and seals, and that's what we replaced.
Mark: So is this kind of transmission failure a common issue with this vehicle?
Bernie: Well apparently it is. I mean we don't see a lot of these. Most of our clients with these larger trucks have automatics, but apparently it isn't an uncommon problem for that particular gear, and that actual issue that occurred on this transmission. We haven't seen a lot of it in our shop, only because we don't work on a lot of them like a lot of other people might do. Yeah, it's pretty common.
Mark: We haven't really discussed transmission repairs before. Do you do many of them?
Bernie: We do. We do manual transmissions. We do anything with gears, but we don't get into automatic transmissions. It's just too specialized. It's not like we couldn't, but it doesn't make any sense when people they're doing them all day long, they have the tools, equipment. So automatics we send out. On manual transmissions, we normally do in house.
Mark: So is a Ford F-450 2004, again this is a fairly old vehicle, worth repairing?
Bernie: Oh yeah, it's a good truck. It's a diesel. This had a dump box bed on the back, so once you start investing in equipment like that it kind of makes sense to repair the vehicle. For a few thousand dollars worth of work, the transmission's overhauled now it should be good for quite a long time, and with the engine repairs we did it should all last and be reliable for quite a long time. It's a good truck and tough. You can see by the size of this gear set on this transmission, it's meant to haul some heavy stuff around. Good truck, I mean it is a six litre diesel. We know what that means, there will be a constant stream of issues going on, but in between it's a good truck, if that's a good thing to say.
Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for repairs for your Ford Diesel medium duty trucks, the guys to see, or your any kind of manual transmission repairs, the guys to see in Vancouver 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, there's lots of information on there, hundreds of postings on there in the blog and in our videos, as well as our YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair. And thank you for listening on iTunes, we appreciate it. Thanks Bernie.
Bernie: Yeah thanks Mark, and thank you for watching.
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Mark: Hi it's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive videos and podcasts and we're here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik talking cars, how are you this morning Bernie?
Bernie: Doing very well, Mark.
Mark: So, we've had a little break we're eager to get back into it and today we're talking about a 1999 Subaru Legacy that had a speedometer problem, what was going on with this vehicle?
Bernie: So this vehicle, the speedometer would operate intermittently and mostly these days the intermittency was it wasn't working. The speedometer wouldn't read anything, and the odometer at the same time, wasn't functioning. So the owner didn't really know how fast he was going.
Mark: Which can be pretty important, so how does the speedometer work in this car?
Bernie: So this vehicle has an electronic speedometer, this is getting to be a pretty old car now, 1999 but the previous generation of vehicles used to always use a speedometer cable, there was a cable that ran from, there was a gear in the transmission, or actually on Volkswagens they actually went from the front wheel, up to the speedometer there was a cable and it was a mechanically driven device. On this vehicle, and for pretty well anything from this generation even into the 90’s, they are all electronic speedometers, there's an electronic sensor, usually on the transaxle or transmission or in the differential, it'll send a signal to a computer and that'll be interpreted and the speedometer will operate. So that's how this one works, so it's an electronic speedometer.
Mark: And how did you diagnose this concern?
Bernie: Well, so a couple things. So the speedometer that the components are involved are of course the speedometer itself, there's usually a power train computer, could be a body control computer, sometimes there's even an instrument cluster computer, and then the speed sensor itself. Now, of course there's tests and procedures we do, which we did, one thing we kind of ruled out right away is the speed sensor being bad because the transmission itself was shifting fine, and if the speed sensor was bad the transmission would have made funny shifts, because it relies on that critical piece of information. Also, the fact that there was no check engine light or any sort of transmission warning light indicated as well that that speed sensor signal was probably good. So, there's a tree of diagnosis that we followed, we eventually removed the speedometer, tested the signal right to the speedometer and verified that signal was in fact good and the problem itself was inside the speedometer.
Mark: So knowing the speedometer is the problem, how did you fix it?
Bernie: So, for a lot of cars, newer vehicles, the speedometer, the electronics are very complicated there very integrated. But this being an older vehicle, we're actually able to take the speedometer apart and examine the circuit board and what we actually found was a soldered joint on the circuit board on one of the main wires, was basically a dried up soldered joint, they just, over time they get hot and they dry up and the connection's bad. So we're actually able to take the circuit board apart, resolder the dried up joint and it worked perfectly. And I'll just get in some pictures, right here so you can see what was going on.
Here we have our Subaru 1999, still in pretty decent shape for an almost 20 year old vehicle. And the speedometer itself, pretty basic dash, obviously we're not going anywhere at this point, no speed. This is the back, so this is the instrument cluster removed so if you've never seen one this is what the back side of an instrument cluster looks like. You can see there's a wiring connector, one goes here, there's another one here, another one there, and on this one, actually there's from the speedometer right there as well, so it actually had four connectors. So, throughout all these pieces, these items here are bulbs, usually the larger ones are illumination bulbs, dash lights that turn on in the dark, and these are for the various turn signals, switches, and warning lights and things like that. A lot of newer dashes these will be integrated LEDs and you won't see all these circuit issues, but the good news about this vehicle is that it actually has these, so we're actually able to do repairs. But the speedometer is actually located behind here, you can see a little SP minus, ignition, these are like, making a long story short, the speedometer's located behind this, so we actually read to remove this circuit board and take the dash further apart, and what we found in the end, this is the actual, there's a separate circuit board for the speedometer, and this is the bad soldered joint, here. Now, unfortunately the picture doesn't entirely do it justice but can see it's a little greyer than some of these other shiny, nice shiny joints, this one looks kind of grey but it was fine. This was the bad joint and often we need to look at them with a magnifying glass so we can see that the joint's bad. So, we were able to resolder that particular joint and the speedometer worked fantastic afterwards.
Mark: So, given that there's things are getting smaller and smaller and much more integrated and stuff, how often are you able to do this sort of repair on some of the newer vehicles?
Bernie: Less and less frequently, it used to be in the 80's where there was a lot of Japanese vehicles where the engine computer would malfunction, we were able to find a bad soldered joint, but yeah, it's getting to be less and less common, you look at your smartphone and you go the whole power of a desktop computer inside this tiny little device and that's the way electronics have been going and that's the way they are in cars, too. Sometimes, to me it's on a, sometimes you do it, sometimes whenever you can we do it and we'll just look at it and see if we're able to repair that because it certainly saves the customer an awful lot of money. And it's less wasteful, you don't have to chuck a whole part away and get another one.
Mark: So this car is getting on, almost 20 years old, is it still worth spending money on?
Bernie: Well, it's kind of getting to the point where probably not a lot, and we've serviced this car since it was almost new, it's been pretty reliable and the owners have kept it up in good shape, there's a few major items that it needs and among them are head gaskets, I mean there not leaking enormously, but there's a slight coolant seep coming out. I kind of advised the owner, I don't think you should spend the money on it, cause its just, the amount of money it would cost to fix that, there was a few other items, you could buy yourself another nice, used Subaru that's quite a few years newer. And put your money into something better, so, good car, but it's near the end of its life.
Mark: So there you go, if you're looking for quality repairs for your Subaru 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, their busy, check out our website, pawlikautomotive.com, or our YouTube channel, under Pawlik Auto Repair, hundreds of videos on there, or thank you for listening to the podcast. Thanks Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks, Mark, and thanks for watching and listening.
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Mark: Hi it's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast and we're here talking cars with Mr. Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. How are you this morning Bernie?
Bernie: Doing well.
Mark: So today's victim, today's vehicle is a 2013 Ford E250 van that had a problem with its rear brakes. What was going on with this van?
Bernie: So the owner of the vehicle came in with the brakes making a pretty bad grinding sound. We did a brake inspection, found that the one brake pad on the rear was extremely badly worn, grinding on the rotor right down to the backing plate.
Mark: Okay, that seems a little bit different. What would cause only one pad to wear so fast?
Bernie: It's basically a seized brake caliper on the right rear, and it's not uncommon. When a caliper seizes, usually one, often one pad will wear worse. Sometimes both pads on one side will wear, but often it'll just be one pad that wears because of the way the caliper seizes. We'll look at some pictures a little later, and I'll explain it further.
Mark: Okay, 2013, five years old, that's not that old. Did this van have really high mileage?
Bernie: No actually not. I mean, in terms of kilometres it didn't even have 50,000 kilometres. So yeah a five year old van could have a lot, but this vehicle was actually very low mileage up to this point.
Mark: And what would cause the caliper to seize this soon in it's lifecycle?
Bernie: Yeah, it's kind of a Ford issue. The calipers on these vehicles on Ford vans and trucks, I find that we replace these more than any other vehicle and they seem to often seize up at a very early age. I think just due to the design of the calipers, they're just not very durable for some reason. I mean, they're built tough, they're big. We'll look at pictures in a second. They're tough, they're big, heavy duty but just something about the design of them. They tend to fail very frequently and I'd say about 50% of the brake jobs we do on Ford trucks and vans involve replacing calipers. So let's just get into some photos right now. Isn't that lovely? All my pictures seemed to have disappeared so I'll talk for a few more seconds and see if I can get my pictures back. I love it when this happens because this is a good picture show. Ask me a few more questions and I'll stop the screen share, I'll get some pictures back.
Mark: Sure. You say this is a fairly common thing to have and is it just an issue with Ford's or does this kind of caliper freezing or sticking happen on other vehicles?
Bernie: Actually it happens on all vehicles but not quite so often. As I say, Ford tends to be ... Sorry if I'm not looking at the camera here, I'm just trying to download my photos. But Ford for some reason in the Ford design, they use what's called a phenolic piston. It's not made of metal and I think that a lot of the problems is due to that piston design. Let's get these photos up here. But yeah, a lot of it has to do with the piston design. The other thing is that the dust seals on the Ford's tend to go bad quite frequently too and once the dust seal cracks then water can get in it and cause calipers to cease. So I think I'm ready to do a screen share here.
Okay, there's the full picture. So you can see, this is the rear brakes completely taken apart. This it the left brake rotor, the left brake pads, the left caliper and on the right hand side, you can see this is the inside of the rotor. You can see very shiny, very gouged and this is the inboard brake pad completely worn down to the metal backing plate, the outboard pad. You can't see on the angle here but there's quite a bit more material, we'll look at the pad pictures in a sec and you can see just a generally rusty condition here, which happens, 'cause you get a lot of metal flakes flying through the air. So the next picture we'll look at is, there's a comparison of the brake pads. So this is what the outboard pad looked like. There's about five millimetres in that pad and probably at least a few months to a year's life left in that brake pad based on the driving of the vehicle. And there's the inboard pad completely worn. The pad material's completely worn away. Just the metal backing plate wearing against that rough rotor. For our next shot, we've got the ... There we go, it sharpened up. This is one of the slider pins and there's a rubber cover over here, and you can see a lot of rust here so this could've been one of the contributions to the caliper seizing up in early age. As I say, it is five years old, I mean, all it takes is a little bit of road salt to get in here and cause this to seize. Now being in Vancouver, we don't use a lot of road salt, but we have had a couple winters where there's been a bit of salt on the roads. So maybe this seal isn't very effective at the factory, a bit of road salt and water got in there and caused this pin to seize. The caliper wasn't completely seized like this. There was movement in this area but all it takes is a bit less movement, and it'll cause the pads to wear quicker. So that combined with piston problems could've caused this issue. There is a picture of the caliper, the right brake caliper. The pistons are sticking a fair amount out. I mentioned the dust seals are a problem. These are the dust seals here. They weren't ripped on this vehicle but frequently we find that after 50 to 70 thousand kilometres, which is kind of an average life for these brake pads, depending on the weight you haul on your vehicle. Of course, these dust seals will often be blown open, and I'm seeing this for years and years on Ford's. They don't seem to have made ... changed a lot over the years. I'd say that's kind of a common problem.
I apologize, this photo's not of sharpest quality that I've done, but this is the old right rear rotor versus the new rotor. I'd say, it's a bit of a fuzzy shot, but you can see this surface here, how little material there is there compared to how much metal there is here. So quite a lot is worn off. I don't know how long this has been noisy. The owner had said he'd had the vehicle in for an oil service about a week previously, and they said there's five millimetres on his brakes. So they obviously did a quick brake inspection, but that's how much metal has all of a sudden started making noise. So that's how much metal is worn off the rotor in one or two weeks. So, you can't go very long like that before it'll completely wear out. Again, another photo of the rotor. You can see how little metal there is here versus how much is on the other side. We have over the years, I've actually seen people wear this completely off, so you have just the fins of the rotor rubbing against the pad, and you can imagine how fast that wears.
Mark: That must sound really good.
Bernie: It's horrific, it's horrific. This is the right rear side with a brand new rotor, new pads and a new ... this is a Napa Eclipse caliper. These are really good quality calipers. I don't know who else makes a caliper of this quality but not only are they painted nicely, but they have better hardware. They take a little more time to rebuild them than the average rebuild and they're probably about 20% more money than the regular rebuild. But I find they're worth it in terms of quality if a person wants to go for that kind of thing. It's important on a truck. The owner of this vehicle, they haul a lot of weight in it. So we put the heavy duty fleet pads, ultra premium rotors and these calipers on. You need to do whatever you can to make it last long. If you use cheap pads, it'll wear out fast and it'll just end up costing you more money in the long run. Save you now, but you'll be back having a brake job done sooner. That's the end of our picture show.
Mark: So that was a pretty extensive repair then, basically.
Bernie: Yeah, yeah. There's a lot that needed to be done for sure.
Mark: And was it really necessary to replace all the components or could you have just done the rotors, and the pads?
Bernie: No there's no way because the caliper was what caused the pads to seize up in the first place. When you have a wear difference that much, all the other pads were about five millimetres and this other one was zero. It's clearly a seized caliper issue. You can have a bad brake hose that'll cause pads to wear to but in a vehicle of this age, a bad brake hose will be highly unlikely and as I said, Ford caliper problems are just super common. So yeah, that's the kind of the extent. Pads, rotors, calipers and we also flushed the brake fluid which had never been done before and it was old and discoloured and dirty.
Mark: So maybe talk about that for a second. Why that's a rare kind of thing in my experience in having cars for the last 40 years. Flushing the brake fluid. What's that all about?
Bernie: That's actually one of the more common services we do here. Now it's one thing that never used to be ever talked about over the years. You know, you and I are kind of the same age. When we were younger and we had cars, nobody ever flushed brake fluid. But brake fluid is a hygroscopic fluid. It absorbs water and it's actually meant to do that because if the water actually got stuck in a certain area, say if it wouldn't absorb water, water would get trapped in certain areas of the brakes, like it would maybe get out the calipers or up in the master cylinder and would cause rust and corrosion. So because it actually absorbs water, it actually takes the water with the fluid but it weakens the fluid quality over time and what happens is the boiling point of the fluid goes way down and the brakes given enough heat which happens in braking. Usually you'd only ever experience it on long hills. You could actually lose your brakes, because the brake fluid would boil. So flushing brake fluid has been recommended by European manufacturers for many years. They usually recommend every two years. Now you can look in the manual of a lot of American vehicles, and they won't even recommend it. I don't know why because it's the same fluid, you're driving in the same conditions. The only place you might be safe from that is if the car never left the Arizona desert. But anywhere else around North America, there's a fair bit of moisture and that gets absorbed into brake fluid. So the recommendation for a lot of manufacturer's is every two years, two to three is good. I mean, we can test the water content, but normally we just look at visually, and we look for our regular customers, we just look at their maintenance schedule, and we can tell if it's been two or three years, we flush it. So it is actually a fairly common service, but a lot of people have not heard of it and a lot of manufacturers, it's left out, and I don't know why.
Mark: All right. Econoline vans have been around forever basically, almost as long as me. How are they for reliability?
Bernie: Yeah, you know, I'd say they're fair. I won't comment on the really old ones because they're ... I realize with cars, every decade has its reliability compared to whatever other cars were around in that time. But I'd say, I'd call them fair. I mean, over the years, they've had their issues. I'd say, and we talked about bad brake calipers. Those are issues that they've had. I mean generally, they're pretty tough, well built vans, but there's been a few issues with spark plugs blowing out over the years or seizing up. I think Ford's got beyond that in these newer ones. They have the regular type of spark plugs that don't have any issues. Things like intake manifolds have had coolant leaks and things. So I'd say I'd call them fair, but they've had probably more than their share of problems. But just on a general day to day basis, they usually start up fine and run and they can haul pretty heavy loads. They're usually built quite toughly, if that's the right word to use.
Bernie: Beefy, yeah that's a good word for it. They're built "Ford Tough". Interestingly about the Econoline is that actually 2013 is one of the last years, 2014 was actually the last year they made Econoline's. They switched to the Transit vans, which are those more boxy, cubey type of vans that kind of mimic Sprinters. It's interesting, I've traveled to Europe a couple of times over the last two, three years. I noticed most of the vans they have they're all of that Sprinter type design. All the manufacturers have that kind of taller, narrower style van. So it seems like the American manufacturers have all gone that way too, because the Dodge's are like that and the Ford's and it's funny, I don't know what's Chevy's been doing, but I should, but. Ford's definitely gone with the Transit van which are those more tall, cubey, rectangular type of vans.
Mark: So there you go. If you need service for your Ford van or truck in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. You must book ahead, they're busy or check out their website, pawlikautomotive.com. We have hundreds of videos on our YouTube channel at Pawlik Auto Repair. We really want to thank you for listening to the podcast. If you're calling from somewhere else in North America, we cannot diagnose your vehicle over the phone. It's not in integrity for us to do that. They're just too many options. So if you're in Vancouver, call us to book an appointment, otherwise, just enjoy our shows. Thanks Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks Mark and thanks for watching.
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Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast, here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, the big bopper himself, here in Vancouver, talking about cars. How are you this morning, Bernie?
Bernie: Doing very well.
Mark: So, the 2004 Porsche Cayenne had a problem starting. What was going on with this vehicle?
Bernie: So, this vehicle was towed to our shop. When you turned the key, all the lights would come on on the dash, and everything seemed normal, but when you go to the start position, nothing happened. There's no clicks, no clunks, nothing. So, basically, it was a no-start with what seemed like to be a good strong battery.
Mark: What did you do to diagnose the problem?
Bernie: Well, of course, the first test is to verify that the battery is, in fact, good. From there, we proceeded to do some scan tool tests to make sure there weren't any issues with, say, the security system or with the ignition key, anything we could see on the scan tool. Nothing was apparent. I mean, there are a number of things that can cause a car not to start like this, and on a really simple car without any security system, you know, something like this, you'd suspect maybe the ignition key or the starter or something would be bad because it's a pretty simple circuit. But on something like a Cayenne, and a lot of vehicles, the security system, if there's something going on with that, an issue there, it could cause the vehicle to simply not to crank over. So, we verified that was all good. Went to do some tests on the starter, and we basically found that the starter itself was dead.
Mark: How is starter replacement on this vehicle?
Bernie: Well, it's a lot of work. The starter is just beautifully laid out in the valley ... it's a V8 engine. The starter actually sits in the valley between the two cylinders buried under the intake manifold, the coolant pipes. There's a lot of stuff that needs to be removed. It's a great use of space, but when it comes to replacing the starter, it's really not that good. Let's just get into some pictures because I've got some neat stuff to show you here.
There's our Cayenne. 2004, older model of Cayenne-S, which is the V8 model. Just let me work my way through these pictures here. So, there's the ... If you were to pop the hood open under this vehicle, and you look at the engine, that's the engine. The intake manifold is here. There's a lot of plastic covers all around to hide all the nice working components of the vehicle for the visual experience of just the engine only. There's covers that need to be removed here, and as we go further with the intake manifold removed, everything, all the covers removed, we get to the starter motor, which sits right down in this valley here underneath these coolant pipes here. You can see a lot of bits and pieces have been removed. The intake manifold, the black round pipes were all sitting on top here. These rags basically cover the intake port so nothing, of course, falls in between that would get sucked into the engine and cause some nasty problems. So, there's the starter right there. As I said, it's a great use of space, but when it comes to replacing it, it's not exactly a great place to do it.
Mark: So, on most American V8s, the starter is down below and underneath, basically, the pistons and close to the crankcase?
Bernie: Yeah. It's usually ... Well, you can't really see, but if you could imagine going rotating around like this and down the backside of the engine, the starter is usually located underneath the vehicle, and it bolts into the bell housing, just like this one does, but it bolts in down below. There's usually a provision made to put the starter in. They're not…
Mark: So, this one's really at the top of the flywheel, basically, at the very…
Bernie: It’s really at the top, yeah, and it's not the only vehicle. There's Cadillac's that have this type of design, as well. So, you know, it's not a Porsche-unique thing, but, you know, it's certainly, as to say, it's not the best place to remove the starter. Whenever we replace these, of course, we do put a warranty on our work. I always hope this is not the kind of warranty job that ever comes back because it's a lot of work for us to replace it. One thing about electrical parts, they are probably a more common failure. I hope I'm not jinxing this repair by saying this, but they are. Starters and alternators seem to be one of the more common failure items that we repair. Just by the nature of what they are, they're electrical components. They do tend to fail a little more frequently than other parts. Sometimes they'll go for years, but the failure rate is a little higher. There are new ones available. I mean, it used to be traditionally, you'd always replace it with a rebuilt part. There are brand new ones available, and we have used them, but we tend to find that a lot of these are cheap Chinese manufactured parts that actually the brand new ones don't even last as long as the remanufactured original components. So, we've actually just pretty well stick with a good brand of remanufactured component.
Mark: Not that Chinese components can be inferior, just sometimes they're made more cheaply as for budget reasons.
Bernie: Exactly. And I hate saying cheap Chinese because I mean, I remember when I was young, and you'll probably remember too, they used to say Jap Crap. It was like, Japanese manufactured products were bad. I mean, when you look at Jap, maybe they were in the 1960s, but I mean, they just rocketed forward in quality. I mean, nobody ever thinks that anything Japanese is being crappy, and no one has for a long time. And the thing with Chinese, they make a lot of stuff, and a lot of it's good, but there's just a lot of low-standard manufactured items, and ... undoubtedly, I mean, look at a lot our smartphones are made in places like that, and the quality of those is pretty good for most of them.
Mark: Well, if you're looking at Apple iPhones, they make a million of them a day, and the failure is terribly small compared to…
Bernie: Absolutely. Absolutely. So there's lots of great Chinese stuff, and so I probably should take the cheap ... so, we'll just say cheap offshore ... Well, you know.
Mark: It's made poorly.
Bernie: Poorly made, cheap quality. And you know, this is the thing we often battle in our industry is what are the economical things to buy? I mean, if you buy the part from the dealer, you'll pay a huge amount of money, and often, it's not worth the extra amount of money. And many of their components will be remanufactured anyway, so you just hope that their standards are high. Anyways, so yeah. So there's the starter location. We have one more picture to look at, and that is the coolant pipe, so the coolant pipes sit over the top of the starter, and then, of course, you can see now the rags have been removed, you can see the intakes parts. So, the next step in the installation here is to put the intake manifold over top and then put these air pumps back in and all the other covers and bits and pieces, and then away it goes.
Mark: So, don't these vehicles have problems with leaking coolant pipes?
Bernie: They do, and they did. The coolant pipes used to be made of plastic on these earlier models. I'm not sure when they stopped making it. Probably, maybe '07 or something like that. But the original coolant pipes were plastic, so these have been replaced, and they would fail at an alarming rate at a very early age. A lot of engines died an early death because of that because the coolant pipes would leak, people wouldn't deal with it, the engine would overheat. Yeah, not a fantastic design, and not something I'd expect out of such a high-end expensive car.
Mark: Now, what was wrong with the original design of coolant pipes?
Bernie: Basically, plastic. You know, the plastic ... They were made of plastic. They'd expand and contract, break, shrink, and basically, they just contributed to leakage. The new metal pipes, of course, they have o-rings in each end, that you know, the metal isn't subject to the same forces, and it's much more durable.
Mark: After this extensive amount of repairs, how was the Cayenne?
Bernie: Oh, it was good. Yeah, started fine, ran great. This vehicle ran quite well. There are a lot that don't seem to. You know, over the years, we've had a lot of Cayenne's with engine problems, again, possibly overheating. They're kind of loud, noisy engines, I find. A lot of times when they run and you rev them up, you go, "Oh, something's wrong with this," and yet it's actually normal. So they're just kind of a loud, noisy engine.
Mark: And how are Porsche Cayenne's for reliability?
Bernie: You said that very well. Not Porsche, Porscha. It'll keep some of our fans happy.
Mark: They're never happy, come on.
Bernie: Yeah. Yeah. There's always some people with… Anyways, you know, I'd say overall, I'd say they're not the most reliable vehicle. I mean, things like as I was mentioning, the coolant pipe issues they had, the noisiness of the engine, they're not the easiest vehicle to service. I mean, a battery replacement involves removing the seat to take the battery in and out. Again, this isn't unique necessarily to this vehicle, but they're just a lot of ... they're a very complex vehicle. I'd say they were probably rushed into production at the beginning, so they had a few problems. I think they've got a lot better over time, but I don't know. You know, to me, they're not my favourite, and to me, a Porsche, like a 911 is kind of like the best car. A Cayenne, while it's a nice vehicle, it's kind of a disappointment, but of course, you can haul five people around and some stuff whereas a 911, you can only take one person, so. And not a lot of stuff. So, it's not as practical, but, yeah, I'd say they're not the most reliable luxury SUV. There are probably better choices out there.
Mark: So, there you go. If you're looking for service for your Porsche in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment, or check out their website, pawlikautomotive.com. We have hundreds of videos on YouTube. Search for Pawlik Auto Repair, or, of course, thank you so much for listening to our podcast. If you're calling from somewhere else in North America, we don't diagnose your vehicles over the phone. We don't feel that's an integrity, so if you're in Vancouver, call us for service. You must book ahead. Thank you for watching. Thanks, Bernie.
Bernie: Well, thanks, Mark, and thank you for watching. We really appreciate it.
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Mark: Hi it's Mark Bossert, producer of Pawlik Automotive Podcast here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive, and we're talking cars. How are you doing this morning Bernie?
Bernie: Doing very well.
Mark: So this week's victim is a 2003 Toyota Matrix that had an EVAP system problem. What's an EVAP system and what was going on with this vehicle?
Bernie: Alright, well first of all the vehicle came in with a check engine light and it had been at our shop previously several months ago with the same check engine light and the same trouble code. I'll talk about that in a minute but the EVAP system basically is a, it stands for evaporative fuel system and what it does is it prevents gasoline vapours from escaping to the atmosphere. Gasoline, if you've ever filled your gas tank up on a hot day you'll see all that vapour kind of floating away, unless you're in the US with one of those gas pumps that keeps the vapour contained. Basically what happens is that gasoline is very volatile and it evaporates very easily and that evaporated fuel is all hydrocarbons that creates smog and a lot of pollution. It's a huge issue, you think oh it's just drifting away but it actually creates a lot of issues so, not to mention it's actually your money that's actually floating away in to the atmosphere so it's a good idea to keep the gas contained and that's what the EVAP system does. It's rather complicated, I mean it involves a gas tank, a sealed fuel filler, and a number of pipes and valves and sometimes motors to keep the system contained but it allows the air to be, as the gas is being sucked out of the tank of course it allows air to be displaced but it doesn't allow air to go back, it doesn't allow the fumes to escape back to the environment. So that's basically what the EVAP system does. It's pretty complex but you know it does its job.
Mark: So again what was going on with this Toyota Matrix?
Bernie: So no performance issue and that's pretty common with EVAP system codes. The performance of the vehicle is often not affected, under certain circumstances it will be but most of the time it doesn't really affect the performance it's just that the system has picked up a fault that could cause gases to evaporate out into the air. So I'll just get into some pictures right away here.
Here we've got...what do we have here? Start, there's our 2003 Toyota Matrix, a little old but it's still in really good shape. Look at the trouble codes. So here's a scan on one of our scan tools that show the trouble codes. P0440, there's a malfunction in the system and then a P0446. The evaporative emission control system vent control malfunction. So this is a little more specific of a code and you can see there's a current and history. This is a way trouble codes are often stored. They'll, depending on the scan tool, show what's actually there at the moment and what's history so sometimes you'll only have a history code and not a current code. Anyway that's a question for another time. But what we found with this vehicle, because we'd actually done a previous diagnosis, and actually I guess, I know we had another question of how difficult are EVAP systems to diagnosis and I'll just jump right into that.
These can be really complicated and fiddly to diagnosis and what some of the reasons why is that there are certain valves, there's a purge valve and a vent valve, and they'll often malfunction intermittently so we can run through all the tests and we can test it all and it all works fine, clear the codes send it away and then a week later the check engine light is back on because the system malfunctioned. So sometimes, you know we often rely on our data bases of what are common faults in these vehicles. One of the common issues that we ran, so last time we did the diagnosis we did the full system test. We tested for leaks, we found none. We tested all the valves and controls. Everything was working fine. The gas cap was very old and a bad gas cap will cause some of these codes. We replaced the gas cap and released the vehicle with the codes cleared and a few months later the light comes back on again.
So without spending a lot of extra money of the clients to test everything that we have already tested, we figured the best thing to do is to just go to the next most common fault and that's the vacuum, the VSV valve on the canister purge tank. That's an extremely common fault on this vehicle and it had never been changed, it was original to the vehicle. It's 180 thousand kilometres, 15 years old, so it made sense to change it at this point in time.
Mark: So you have a picture of that?
Bernie: Yeah I do. Yeah so that is the VSV, you can see it's a- that's the mounting bracket, extremely rusty. And where this unit mounts, right up here, this is the charcoal canister so this is a big component of the EVAP system. They've used charcoal canisters actually for a long time before they went to all this electronic, sort of monitoring of the EVAP system. This has been around since the late 60s, just to trap gasoline vapours but it wasn't quite as sophisticated as is now. But there's the location, that's the new valve installed. There are various, as you can see the number of hoses that run to a number of different locations and different parts of the vehicle. Hoses that run to engine, hoses that run from the gas tank, hoses that go to the fuel filler neck, they're all over the place. Anyone of these hoses can leak so when we do testing on the system we all test, you know to find out whether there's leaks anywhere in any of these components. And that ends our picture show.
Mark: So what happened next?
Bernie: What happened next? We replaced the valve, cleared the codes, and so far it's working fine. Now again as mention, this was one of these repairs where we'd already done all our testing and we couldn't find a problem, so we've replaced a couple components, so we'll see how things go. It's not the way we normally like to do things in our shop. We really like to test and find things that are wrong but often, as I said with these valves like that VSV valve, they can malfunction intermittently. They'll be, you know you test it and you power it up manually and it works fine, works fine, works fine and then, you know, a hour later something will happen and it won't work. So a lot of times if it's a known common fault on a vehicle it's a good idea to replace that just to put it aside. Leaks are a good thing, you know leaks are a pretty solid thing to test. We can see them, we can verify that pressure's dropping and in this case it wasn't so, an electronic valve like that is a good call.
Mark: So for troubleshooting it's really important that you gather as much information as possible before you jump to what might seem like the obvious conclusion but often isn't. Is that fair?
Bernie: Exactly. Yeah exactly.
Mark: And how are these Toyota Matrix for reliability?
Bernie: They're good. Yeah I mean they're awesome car. Very little goes wrong, even these EVAP systems are very reliable. You know if you're living, by the way EVAP system faults happen a lot more if you live in a climate with a lot of salty road because it tends to corrode things and wear things our a lot faster. But yeah really reliable vehicle.
Mark: So there you go, if you want experts in diagnosis and troubleshooting to look after your vehicle the guys to call are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 if you're in the Vancouver area. You have to call ahead to book because they're busy. Check our their website, pawlikautomotive.com; YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair. Thank you very much for listening on iTunes, we appreciate it. Thanks Bernie.
Bernie: Yeah thanks for watching and thank you Mark.
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Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automatic podcast. We're here in not very sunny Vancouver, actually. We're enjoying some rain for the first time this summer, and I'm here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, the big bopper himself. We're talking cars. How are you doing this morning, Bernie?
Bernie: Doing very well.
Mark: So, today's victim is a '93 Ford F-250, the infamous 7.3 diesel that had a transmission problem. What was going on with this vehicle?
Bernie: So, this vehicle, well, in addition to a transmission problem, it also had an engine running problem where it would stall. But one of the main concerns with the client was the transmission would shift rough. As you drive, the first shift would be very delayed and would bang into the next gear, and it really ... an uncomfortable driving experience and not great for the vehicle. Also, there's an overdrive off, that it's a little lamp on the gear shifter stock, and it was blinking. As soon as it would make that missed shift, it'd start blinking, indicating a malfunction in the system.
Mark: So, a '93? This is getting on in age. Was it even worth, in your opinion, is it worth even fixing an old truck like this?
Bernie: Well, there's still a lot of value in an old diesel truck, one that runs well. But I guess my purpose around doing this podcast is really to illustrate just how complex diagnosing older vehicles can be as compared to newer generation technology. This is a '93. It's pre-OBD2. OBD2 had a much more sophisticated ... It was a government-mandated diagnostic system to track vehicle emissions. But along with it came very easy, I wouldn't say very easy, most of the time, you can plug a scan tool in, you can get a lot of information and diagnostic, trouble codes, data, all that sort of thing. As vehicles have got newer and newer, that data has got better and better and helps us diagnose things better. This much older than that. Also, the computer on this vehicle only does the transmission. The engine is actually all fully mechanical, so there's no engine electronics. They call it a powertrain computer, but it's really just a transmission computer. So, in answer, is it worth it? It really largely depends on the vehicle, what you're doing with it, your attachment to it. You know, the other areas, of course, around getting parts for older vehicles can be difficult, and we can talk about that a little later on. This truck was in pretty good shape other than the repairs needed, and I'm happy to say that once we completed all the repairs, which were pretty extensive, in addition to the transmission, there were some fuel injection issues, the truck runs really nicely. So, it should be good for quite some time.
Mark: So, why was the diagnosis difficult?
Bernie: Why the diagnosis was difficult, I was alluding to the diagnostic connector. This uses an old system that Ford had called EEC-IV. Now, some of the cars were pretty good, like, some of their cars and gasoline engines, you could get some data out of it, in addition to trouble codes. But in this truck, all there is available is trouble codes when there's fault, so that really leaves you very limited. It just gives you an area where things are going. I'm just going to share a couple of pictures, and then we'll talk a little more. Great, ok.
Yeah, so there's our truck. A little dusty and dirty, but really in pretty good shape body-wise. There's no rust. It's old but pretty good. You'll actually happen to notice, there's a '94 Ford truck sitting the background here, which actually happened to come in simultaneously for the same problem, which is really bizarre. Very rare to have two vehicles of this vintage in our shop at all, let alone with the same issues. So, it was kind of a two-for-one diagnostic. They were both having the trouble codes. Anyways, pictures. There's our truck. This is the Ford EEC-IV diagnostic connector. Was very common on Ford for a long time. There's again, the test port and the connector. So, you're asking why ... Again, we're talking about why it's difficult to diagnose, so basically what we're able to do is extract two trouble codes. There was code 23 and a code 29. One of those codes is for a throttle position sensor, otherwise known as a Fipple, on this engine. A vehicle speed sensor circuit out of ... I can't remember the exact code, but it's basically a vehicle speed sensor circuit problem. So, those are the two pieces of information we had to work with, and of course, there's no data on a computer to drive it and see, "Hey, is it getting the right signals?" Everything had to be tested manually, and this is where the diagnosis gets complicated. So, what we do to test the throttle position sensor is we hook a lab scope up, and we can take a reading of it. What we found is that basically, the sensor was dead. That piece was confirmed. The vehicle speed sensor was a much more complicated diagnosis because it gets a signal from the rear differential of the vehicle, sends that to the speedometer, the speedometer has a little computerized module which converts that signal into a square wave pattern. It sends a signal to the powertrain control computer, and inside there, that operates the transmission. So, you can see there's a few different things at play, and again, no data of any sort. Now, one thing we did have going for us is when we were driving it, the speedometer actually worked. It pretty much verified that the signal from the vehicle speed sensor was good, at least good enough to operate the speedometer.
I'll share a couple of pictures here of some of the waveforms. What we use is a lap scope to test these items, and we have to test right at the computer for one of them, and right at the back of the speedometer for the other. So, again, we'll just go back in the screen share here, and-
Mark: Okay, wait a minute now. I've seen videos on YouTube that people hook scopes up and it tells them exactly what's wrong and what part there is that needs to be replaced, or else, that's what they claim. Isn't that how it works?
Bernie: No. It doesn't. And as I said, with the code, for instance, for the vehicle speed sensors, the code is sensor circuit out of range. Well, it doesn't tell you that piece, the vehicle's speed sensor's out of range, it just tells you the computers not getting the right signal. So, that could be coming from the speed sensor in the rear of the vehicle, it could be coming from the module, it could be coming from broken wire. It could actually be coming from inside the computer. The signal could be fine right to the computer and not getting it. So, the answer is, sometimes we can plug something in. We can get a trouble code. On certain vehicles, we know that 99% of the time that that particular sensor's a problem. So at that point, yeah, it's a good gamble to change it. But with this vehicle, it's nothing like that. It's all straight manual testing and very time-consuming. Did I answer the question?
Bernie: Good. Awesome. And then really, for me doing this podcast is not defending ourselves and the time we take, but really just to show just what it does take to do a proper diagnosis on some vehicles. I say the older ones are often worse. We've got a couple of older Jaguars with fuel injection. Again, there's saying there's no trouble codes whatsoever, everything has to be tested manually, so you have to use your skills and intuition and start there and then start testing various sensors. It can take hours to get things figured out. Anyways, so what we're looking at here ... You can see this picture, correct?
Bernie: So, this is a photograph ... This is the waveform coming from the vehicle's speed sensor while we're driving down the road. What happens with this wave, it's called an AC signal alternating current. It's generated by the sensor, and as you speed up, the height of the wave gets higher and it gets tighter. So the frequency of the wave changes, and this is the signal that comes from the rear differential of the vehicle. It goes to the speedometer, so we were actually able to verify that this signal was good. No problem with this one. Next, I have a couple of videos here, and hopefully, they'll ... So, we have one here ... You know what? I'm actually not even going to play the video because you can just see that it's the waveform. Now, this is the waveform that was coming right to the vehicle computer, and you can see it's now a square wave, not a AC sign wave, is what the other wave is called.
Bernie: So, the other thing that's tricky is, we have this wave, and it actually varied when we were driving it. It would change height and it would actually change spacing. So we were verifying that it wasn't actually getting information, but the tricky thing about this is we actually didn't really know for sure if this was the right signal. There was no information whatsoever from Ford and any of our repair information. We have a lot of online data we can access. I couldn't find anywhere that said, "Is this a good signal or not." What was a little confusing is that even though it's a square wave, it starts at just over four volts and goes a bit under four volts, crossing zero. I'm thinking, "Is that right, or should it be zero volts up to eight or 10 volts?" We weren't really 100% sure. It looks like the right kind of wave, but I couldn't verify it. I even called the tech support line, and they couldn't even really give me 100% verification. But, based on what we saw, we figured that this is probably pretty close to accurate. It's getting a signal, and we decided the powertrain computer was at fault in this case 'cause the signal was going right to the powertrain computer. So, at that point, we ... I'll just a talk a little further since we're at the screen sharing mode, we don't want to change back. We actually pulled the powertrain computer out and found a lot of little nasty, a lot of nasty stuff inside here. It was not necessarily water, but a lot of powdery moisture. There's aluminum around the body of this. Clearly, some moisture had affected it and started flaking the aluminum off, which was a good enough sign that the inside of this computer was in bad shape.
Bernie: Yeah, exactly. So yeah. So, that's what we found, through again, some good rigorous testing and verification. But unfortunately, as I said, there wasn't really any data. We have a source of ... One of our bits of repair information that we can access actually has a waveform library where technicians have uploaded waveforms of various sensors, and I'm going to do that with this particular thing, so someone else can actually see what a good one looks like. Because it's good to verify this is what's good and this is what's not 'cause sometimes we're looking at something for the first time. Manufacturers never do this kind of stuff. They write crappy repair information most of the time and hope you can figure it out.
Mark: So, was the computer fairly hard to find or get access to?
Bernie: Well, yeah. The computer was hard to find. I actually managed to find one good used one in Vancouver-
Mark: I meant on the truck itself.
Bernie: Oh, on the truck? No. Well, it's a bit of work to take out, but it's not that hard. Fortunately, being an old truck with a lot of space, there is room to test a lot of these things reasonably easily and remove them. This computer was kind of stuck, jammed in place. It took a lot of work to get it out. I think the moisture had stuck it in place, but yeah, it wasn't too difficult to get it out. And then getting onto the other question, where did we get one from? There are, of course, Ford doesn't sell them anymore. All our normal auto sources like NAPA, Lordco, our parts places we deal with, nobody like that sells it either. It's basically a special ... It's easier if you're in the U.S. to get these computers 'cause there are companies that remanufacture them. We get them from there too, it's just more of a process to get it to Canada. But I managed to find a good used one that worked really well.
Mark: And once that was repaired, you got a new computer in, changed the throttle position, the throttle, Fipple, whatever you call it.
Mark: Then the vehicle was running good?
Bernie: Yeah, it was great. The transmission immediately shifted right away perfectly. No more blinking overdrive light, and you know, hopefully, the used computer will last a long time. The thing with computers and electronics, you never know. Sometimes they'll last for a hundred years, and other times, they'll last for 10. You just never know.
Mark: Ten minutes.
Bernie: Or minutes. Yeah. Yeah, you never really know. The thing with automotive electronics is often, in the case of this one, often it gets damaged by moisture. That'll probably kill the next one too at some point down the road.
Mark: Yeah, it's a harsh environment. So, there are some definitely older vehicles still on the road. How old is too old to be practical to work on? I mean, assuming it's not a classic that's been restored or remodelled or hot-rodded?
Bernie: Yeah, like, you're talking everyday driver kind of vehicle?
Bernie: Regular usage. You know, it depends on the car, but I'd say once you get in the 15-year-old range, things start to get a little dodgy for getting parts. It really depends from car to car though. There's certain cars where you can ... If it's 30 years old, you can still buy parts for them. And other cars, and Ford is really bad for this, not even 10 years old, I've had Tauruses ... I mean, there's literally millions of them on the road, and you know, a rear ball joint, I remember trying order one, "Oh, that's obsolete." What? It's a Ford Taurus. There's like millions of them, but for some reason, the part was obsolete. So, you never know, but I think a lot of times with the European cars, parts tend to be available for a lot longer of a timeframe. American cars are often shorter. How long? I think it really depends from vehicle to vehicle, but sometimes too, it's what sort of generation of diagnostics. I mean, anything with OBD2 is much better to diagnose than this older generation. If I had a choice between, say a '96, is when it was mandated by ... Between buying a 1995 car or a 1996, I'd take the '96 any day of the week because it's got the OBD2 system and makes it a lot easier to diagnose. So, those are some things to consider. I mean, I guess it's on a one by one basis, but generally, once you get to 20 years old, it gets pretty hard to get parts for, for some cars.
Mark: Yeah, and how are these old diesels for reliability?
Bernie: These are really good. These are really solid. They're all mechanical. It's called an IDI. It's an indirect injection system as opposed to like ... Well, the newer Ford's the Power Stroke, which they're super reliable, but they do stink. I mean, they're awful. If we run this thing for one minute our shop, you can't breathe anymore, so you know, that's not a good thing. It's not good for the environment obviously, and that's why we haven't made these diesels for a very long time. But they are extremely reliable, and they're pretty simple. The key is keep your fuel clean, change your fuel filters, change your oil regularly, and these things do last a long time. I don't know the history of this engine. It's the first time we've worked on it, but it has 300,000 kilometres. We did put a new injection pump in it and a fuel lift pump and cleaned all the fuel tanks 'cause there was some contamination, but it runs really really well. These are the kind of engines that can last a million kilometres or miles. They're good.
Mark: So, there you go. If you're looking for service for your diesel 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 'cause they're busy, real busy right now. Or, if you're looking for more information, check out their website, pawlikautomotive.com or our YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair. Hundreds of videos on there. Thank you very much for listening on the podcast. Thanks, Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks, Mark. Thanks for watching.
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Mark: Hi, its Mark Bossert here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik. We're doing the Pawlik Automotive Podcast from Vancouver and we're talking cars. How are you doing this morning Bernie?
Bernie: Doing very well.
Mark: So, today we're talking about a Land Rover LR3 that had a throttle pedal problem. What was going on with this vehicle?
Bernie: The vehicle actually came to our shop with some suspension issues which we in diagnosing found there was actually nothing really wrong with that end of it, but there was also some intermittent faults with the vehicle would go into limp mode while driving it. Through the diagnosis process, we found that there was an issue with the actual electronic throttle body and with the throttle pedal assembly. We'll just talk about the throttle pedal assembly today on this vehicle.
Mark: Well, how does the throttle pedal be a part of a problem with the car going into limp mode?
Bernie: Well, basically the electronic throttle sends a signal to the vehicle computer to as to what the position of the gas, essentially the gas pedal where you put your foot. If it doesn't like the readings from that particular signal, it flags a warning and it'll cause the vehicle to just go into a limp mode. And because all the vehicle computers talk to each other, they want to know where the gas pedal is, how's the engine running, should the suspension be up, should it be down, there's a lot of the complexity of the communication in these vehicles, so one thing will cause another thing to happen and that's how it kind of goes into limp mode.
Mark: So, let's not assume this. What do we mean by limp mode?
Bernie: Okay, yeah, good question. Limp mode is basically there is a major fault or serious fault detected in the vehicle and it'll allow the vehicle to run at a reduced power rate so that you can basically limp it home or limp it to a shop to get fixed. So, you'll see that actually British cars are pretty good for that. They'll actually, a lot of Jaguars will actually say, "Limp Mode," but other vehicles if the transmission has a shift problem, all of a sudden it'll go into that mode. A lot of diesel vehicles, again a certain problem occurs, it'll go into that limp mode because either it'll be putting out excessive emissions or there's a safety concern with the way the vehicle's running. It allows you to get to a shop to repair it, but not much more than that.
Mark: All right. So, we have a throttle pedal assembly which is a pretty weird way of just saying a gas pedal. How come this is so complicated?
Bernie: Excellent question. So let's have a look at the item first.
There's our throttle pedal assembly. I'll just move us out there. So there's where your foot goes. This part here bolts up to the firewall and, of course, this is the pedal that moves back and forth, and here is an electrical connector. Inside here there are springs, so it's got a, it gives you a feeling that you're pushing against something. Okay, the old fashioned way was a cable connected to the throttle and say on a carburetor there's a return spring, well there is on a throttle body system as well, a return spring so it gives you that feeling of you're pushing on something and it springs back. So there's all the spring feel is done in this pedal and then inside there's a couple of different sensors that sense the position of the pedal. That's basically how the unit works as you push it down, it sends the computer a signal.
It'll actually send at least two signals. One, and the sensors work in reverse. So one will go say from zero to five volts, the other one will go from five volts to zero depending on when you push it. The computer looks for a correlation between those two movements, those two numbers that are preset. And if there is any variation of any sort, it'll, the vehicle will immediately go into a fault, limp mode.
Mark: All right. So, again, why are we using electronic throttles? This seems like really complicated.
Bernie: Well, yeah, it is very complicated. The reason for using electronic throttles is, again, it's like through and a lot of engineering and vehicles, they, the engineers have found that there's ways to ... It used to be, I'll just say the old fashioned way, you open the throttle, it allows more air to flow and the engine increases in speed, and the throttle was the control for that. But they've also found that there with engine electronics they can because you have electronic control over the fuel delivery, you have control over sometimes the intake manifold runners, some vehicles even have a lot will have electronic variable valve timing. Once you can control all those things, the throttle doesn't need to be that primary controller of engine speed, and by doing so, you can actually have a huge effect on engine performance and a lot on exhaust emissions. When you close a throttle a certain amount it'll cause a spike in emissions, so if you can actually cut the amount of fuel to slow the engine down versus having a throttle close, then you can make a substantial reduction in exhaust emissions.
Those are some of the reasons. A lot of it is driven by reduced exhaust emissions. It also effects fuel economy. I mean performance, you stomp on it, it opens. That's kind of affected differently. I think electronic throttle largely for emissions and sometimes fuel economy.
Mark: And you can really notice it with if you're around any older vehicles, and where I live there's a lot of hot rodder’s, we'll call them, with old vehicles and they drive by with lots of noise and there's a smell, a stink, that used to be what was normal and we don't notice anymore, I mean, in all the modern cars.
Mark: That's part of the throttle actually changing that?
Bernie: Well, that's to a certain degree. I think the biggest factor would be a catalytic converter, I mean, because that takes exhaust emissions even on a good clean running engine and reduces them enormously. But, yeah, the throttle’s all part of it. All the engineering that goes into a modern engine makes the difference, and a catalytic converter doesn't work instantaneously, so when you, you know some cars when you start them up and they're cold and they still have a bit of that smell, but it disappears pretty fast. But it is really a major difference and you kind of forget about how clean cars really are until you stand behind a, until you're following an old car somewhere and you go, what is that smell, and your eyes start burning and you go, wow. Everything used to be like that at one time. It wasn't that long ago, everything was like that. There's people out there defending oh, you got to have things simple and yeah, you do, but it's like you know, I mean we're ... I mean the poisons that are coming out of a car like that are just horrendous. They do look nice though.
Mark: So, how often do you find fault with electronic throttle systems?
Bernie: It's not really common, but we do see a few of them here and there. The more common problem is usually the throttle body itself will fail, and those are, throttle body it's on the engine, it lives in a much more hostile environment. It's a major moving part with motors and sensors, so there's a lot. A little more complexity to the actual throttle body, so they tend to fail a little more frequently than the pedals, but we do pedals on a variety of different vehicles.
Again, I was saying it's one of those components, the reason we replace this one it's had trouble codes and it's ... It's a lot of, what am I saying? It's a safety item like you don't ... When they engineer the vehicle, they don't want to have some kind of false signal or something where you're only idling and all of a sudden it thinks you're in full throttle. That's why they have so many, what's the word I'm looking for, redundancy built in. There's a lot of technology to this piece, and it's important. With a cable it's pretty straightforward, you either push it or you don't, but with the electronic, you don't want a false signal to the vehicle otherwise the vehicle might go flying through you driveway into a swimming pool like Audis used to. And they didn't have electronic, they did not have electronic throttles back in those days either, so.
Mark: No. Or even just the cases where cars had been hacked and people are, outside people are controlling your car, and changing the throttle electronically.
Bernie: Yeah, exactly. Those things all need to be considered and they do, at least hopefully. I'm not sure for hackers. I think there's always new frontiers that are they probably find out hey, we didn't quite bulletproof that thing as much as we should have.
Mark: And how difficult a repair was this? Did you have to take out the dash or any of that or are these generally pretty easy?
Bernie: Yeah, this is not that complicated. The assembly unbolts from under the dash and it's not really a super-complicated job. They're usually not too bad. They unbolt fairly, generally speaking, fairly easily. The nice thing about it you know the cables are simple, but it's actually ... Nice thing about modern cars with electronic parts is you basically unbolt a piece, you undo the electrical connector, bolt it back in, plug it in, do whatever reprogramming, and away it goes. It's a lot easier than having cables to hook up and in a lot of instances, so.
Mark: Fish through etc. So there you go. If you're looking for service for your vehicles that has a problem with it's throttle, the guys to see in Vancouver, or your Land Rover, service a lot of Land Rovers, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112. Please note, that's a Vancouver number. If you're in the Vancouver area, we'd love to hear from you. We'll service your vehicle. If you're from somewhere else in the world because we get calls from all over, please, we can't diagnose your vehicle over the phone. That's not ... We don't feel like that's in integrity. We don't know there is too many variables there.
So we hope you're enjoying us on our podcast and we thank you for watching on our podcast. We have our video channel where there's hundreds of videos on there for all makes and models and types of vehicles. And of course, if you want service, give us a call. You have to book ahead, we're busy. Pawlikautomotive.com as well if you're interested in our website. Thanks Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks Mark and thanks for watching.
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Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert here, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast. We're here this morning with Mr Bernard Auto Pawlik, the big bopper himself, here in Vancouver, and we're talking cars. How you doing, Bernie?
Bernie: Doing very well.
Mark: So we're talking about a Toyota Solara. It's a kind of a unique vehicle, a 2006 that had a timing belt problem. What was going on with this vehicle?
Bernie: So yeah, so this vehicle came in for a B maintenance service, which is for us it's an oil, basically an oil change service with a full vehicle inspection. Out of doing the maintenance inspection we determined the timing belt needed to be replaced.
Mark: So if we're talking about timing belt replacement I assume you got a lot of other stuff that you have to change?
Bernie: There are other items to replace at the same time as the timing belt. Generally when we do a timing belt, we'll do the water pump, the front engine oil seals, the timing belt tensioner. Any pulleys that are ... Anything really affected by the timing belt, or anything that can directly affect the timing belts life span, we do all at the same time.
Mark: Did you find that it was worn out, or was it just a scheduled change?
Bernie: Well we basically replaced it on the mileage of the vehicle and the fact that we couldn't see any evidence that the belt had been replaced. Now you might want to ask can you not look at the belt? The answer is not without a lot of difficulty. I learned a long time ago when I had a customer with a Subaru many, many years ago. Where it was getting near the mileage of the timing belt, I looked at the timing belt, popped the cover open, it wasn't hard too hard on that car. Looked at it, go yeah it looks fine. Month later the car got towed in with a broken timing belt. So I've kind of learned, now you just never judge them. Now that being an older Subaru those belts are, they break a lot easier, these ones are a lot more robust. But you really can't tell the condition of the timing belt unless you actually take it off. There are a few tell tale signs, we'll look at some pictures in a few minutes of the age of a belt once you take it apart. Things have changed a lot with timing belts, they used to be if you got 100,000 kilometres on a timing belt you're really lucky. That Subaru I was mentioning, those things would often break at 50,000 kilometres, they were kind of a bit of a some bad engineering there. But 50 to 100,000 kilometres was kind of a normal interval for timing belt, now they're up in the 150 to 200 range, and often will go a lot longer than that. Just due to redesign of the belt and how they're built.
So we can get into some pictures here. So there's our Solara, these come in convertible and none convertible but this is the convertible model. Real nice vehicle, very similar to a Camry in design and operation, same engine and same drive train. Here's the timing belt and a couple of the components we replaced. So there's the water pump, there's the timing belt tensioner pulley, and of course the belt itself, which is rather fairly long belt, a V6 engine. For our final photo this is a close up of the belt, so I mean the actual teeth on the belt are on the backside, but you can see on this side there's all the lettering. When these belts are new they all have like writing on them, either from Toyota or whatever, after market manufacturers, the brand name, the belt number, some other information. The fact that there was actually none visible on this just tells us the belt’s old. I mean the rubber was fairly old, but was it about to break? Not really, but you just don't want to take a chance with that kind of thing. So that's our picture show.
Mark: Okay. I've lost my screen here. So what's our next question?
Bernie: Our next question, excellent. So we talked about visual inspections, what do we have? Well timing belt interval, generally in the 150 to 200,000 kilometre range. Closer to 150 is really where you want to do them. Depending on the age of the vehicle as well, that has a bit of a factor in it. This vehicle is 06, that makes it about a 12 year old vehicle, seeing no evidence that the belt had been replaced it's a good time to do it. A 12 year belt is getting pretty old. Also, I guess the question too of all the other items we do, with the water pump, the tensioner, the seals, I mean is that necessary to do it? People are often conscious of the cost, to do everything complete is a fair amount of money. You can just change the belt, however if the water pump fails and it very well likely will pretty soon, or any of the tensioner pulleys, or the tensioner itself, which is a hydraulic unit gives way. The whole job is basically a waste, you have to take it all apart again and do it. So what we do is do the whole job complete, get it all done and then you don't have to worry about it for another 10 years, which I think is the best way to do it. Better to spend the money now and do it fully than ... I've seen so many times when people have taken it somewhere else, and gone I had the belt replaced but I didn't want to do the water pump. A year later they're in for the water pump, and hey I should have done it right the first time. So that's the best thing to do.
Mark: Yeah, so is that a case of everything in that kind of, if we're talking about the front end of the engine, or whatever, and all those pieces that are run off of or have something to do with the timing belt, they all wear at the same place, at the same rate in effect. So the belt is worn a little bit and stretched out tight a little bit, puts maybe a little varying amount of pressure on the water pump, or whatever the reality is of it. That they all, they've gotten used to the state of wear that they're all in. When you put the new piece in it actually puts more pressure and wears out the water pump, or the tensioner faster?
Bernie: Well it does probably put a little more pressure but like modern, all modern timing belts are all self tensioned so they theoretically have the same tension all the way through. But it's more of an age issue, I mean a bearing will only turn for so many times before it eventually fails. Now some might go for a 100,000 kilometres, some might go for 500 but you don't really know when that's going to happen. What we do know is when it does fail you're going to have take everything apart and do the timing belt again. Most of the time when we do the timing belt, you spin the bearing, you can hear it's dry, it spins very freely. Like you can tell the lubrication's drying up, and it's not as good as it could be. Same with water pumps, I mean they will leak eventually or the bearings will wear out as well. So it's just better to replace it because you know that it's only going to be a matter of time before it goes. You might get lucky, it might last 10 more years, but that would be like a statistical anomaly as opposed to being, you know what…
Mark: What would normally happen.
Bernie: Yeah, what would normally happen exactly.
Mark: Timing belt replacement around 150,000 kilometres, is that true across all makes and models of cars?
Bernie: Pretty much, and I say 150, that might be a little sooner than some recommended. A lot of them are like around 168, which I think is 110,000 miles. But yeah usually somewhere around the 150 to 200 range is where most of them are recommended. I mean the 200 is pretty high, I think there's a couple of Ford products I've seen that have it recommended at that mileage. But yeah, if you're thinking the 150 to 180 range that's definitely time you're going to need to do the timing belt. But check the manufacturers schedule, that's one thing that's really important to look at and follow that one.
Mark: So when a timing belt replacement, this is a pretty major job from all the parts that are being replaced.
Bernie: It is, yeah, I'd say it's a major maintenance service and certainly you know when you look at two engines on a car, you think okay I'm going to need a timing belt replacement on this one. Say another engine has a timing chain that doesn't need it, I mean there's a ... If you do it properly, I mean a sort of average timing belt job can be $1500 to do it with the water pump, the tensioners, the pulleys, all those kinds of things. Or it can be a bit less, it can be a bit more depending on the car. That's a fair amount of money to put out on a maintenance service, you think well great I'd rather have a timing chain engine. But timing chains do fail, and when they do the cost is a lot higher. So I mean with a timing chain you never know, it may last forever, and it may fail and you just never really know. But the key to timing chain engines is you've got to make sure you follow your oil change intervals. Because you've got that many more moving parts that are affected by, that good clean oil makes a big difference.
Mark: So what happens if the timing belt breaks?
Bernie: Good question, so if the timing belt breaks your engine will stop right then and there and it won't start again. That's if you have a none interference fit, well that's with any engine. But the other thing is if you have an interference fit engine, which is an engine that's built in such a way that the piston and valves can collide if the timing belt breaks. Then you'll have catastrophic engine damage, the valves get bent, and it becomes extremely expensive to repair. This particular Toyota engine by the way, I was looking for some information is it inference fit or not, I got conflicting information. There's a number of different, if you look on the internet, there's a number of different sites that have lists of engines that tell you, are these inference or not. One website I looked at says yes, the other one says no. Then another one said conflicting information, treat it as an interference engine. So really the best thing to do is treat any car as an inference engine because I mean it's inconvenient when it breaks anyways. But if it does break and causes valve damage it's just horrendously expensive.
Mark: Is this a V6 that Toyota used across a different range of models of vehicles?
Bernie: Oh yeah they've used it in, you'll find it in Lexus vehicles, you'll find it in Camry's, Avalon's, Lexus, a variety of Lexus products. Pretty common engine, excellent engine, very reliable.
Mark: How are Toyota Solara's for reliability?
Bernie: It's a Toyota, they're awesome. Yeah, really nothing I can say that's bad about them, they're really good. I mean really the timing belt is one of the, sort of one of the major maintenance items you're going to deal with on this engine, that's pretty much it.
Mark: So there you go if you're looking for a service for your Toyota product, since we've pumped Toyota's tires so hard here usually. We like their products, they're reliable vehicles. The guys to see in Vancouver are Pawlik Automotive. We appreciate you folks watching from all over the world, but please if you're calling for service and you're in Vancouver we'd love to hear from you. If you're calling for us to diagnose your car issues over the phone we can't do it. Just can't. So give us a call if you want to book an appointment at 604-327-7112, you have to call to book ahead 'cause we're busy. Or check out our website pawlikautomotive.com, we're on YouTube, Pawlik Auto Repair, hundreds of videos on there. As well as of course we're really appreciating you watching our podcast. Thanks a lot Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks Mark, and thanks for watching.