Mark: Hi. It's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive podcast and video series. We're here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik of course, of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience and 19 time winners, 19 times voted by their customers as Best Auto Repair in Vancouver. How are you doing this morning Bernie?
Bernie: I'm doing very well.
Mark: So we're talking about a Subaru Impreza today, a 2009. It was an AC compressor issue. What was going on with this Subaru?
Bernie: So this vehicle came in with basically the belt drive in the AC compressor was gone and the compressor pulley was seized up. The compressor pulley bearing had failed and caused the belt to basically burn off.
Mark: And there was no belt there at all?
Bernie: No. No belt there at all.
Bernie: The belt is always turning with the engine running and the compressor pulley of course is always being driven. The compressor does switch on and off with the clutch but the actual pulley's always being driven. So if that seizes up belts will break.
Mark: So this Impreza was driving around with its pants down basically?
Bernie: Yeah. Kind of, yeah. I mean it drives fine without the belt on because the belt only drives the AC compressor which is a good thing in that respect. It doesn't affect the rest of the vehicle but the AC was no longer functioning.
Mark: So what kind of repair needed to be done on this?
Bernie: So basically the compressor needed to be replaced and I'll just get right into some pictures here so we can have a look at things. But yeah, basically the compressor needed to be replaced to solve the issue, and the belt of course.
So this is our old compressor here, the original compressor with both drive belts off. This is the alternator over here. And the red area basically point to the ... You can see a sort of burnt area here. This is basically the compressor clutch assembly and this pulley here which rotates at all times with the engine running, it basically seized. You couldn't turn it.
And unfortunately I didn't get a video capture of it but is you stuck your hand on that pulley you would be able to wobble this thing back and forth. It was very loose so the bearing had basically worn out. It was very loose and of course caused this all to fail. At one time you could buy just the compressor clutches for vehicles and replace them. And if you did enough digging you could probably actually, possibly come up with a bearing replacement but usually at least by this point it's probably damaged the clutch pretty badly running loose.
So you'd want to replace the whole thing at this point. But sometimes if you have a bearing in early stages of failure you can replace it, but those parts are getting very hard to find nowadays. It's kind of replace the whole assembly type of thing which happens a lot in modern car repairs. This is our new compressor mounted. You can see it's much shinier and clean so this is what the ... The hoses are not attached to the system but that's basically the belt installed and new compressor put in place.
Mark: So, is this a large job?
Bernie: As far as air-conditioning no. I mean labor-wise it's not particularly difficult to do but it does involve of course evacuating the air-conditioning refrigerant and then recharging the system afterwards. But as far as actual component replacement it's one of the easier items to do on an air-conditioning system. I mean the evaporator is definitely the worst because that's located behind the dash and you have to tear the whole ... generally you have to tear the whole dash out on 99% of cars. There are a couple where you don't but yeah, 99% of vehicles you have to tear the whole dash apart to get the evaporator. So this is a pretty easy job to do. The parts are generally not that cheap though so it does end up being a pricey repair but it's not too difficult labor-wise.
Mark: And is this a fairly common failure on Subarus?
Bernie: Not particularly. I mean any vehicle, these bearings will fail but it's not an everyday failure item we see. Certainly not as predictable as head gaskets are on these cars.
Mark: And would the car owner have any warning prior to the failure?
Bernie: Yes. Normally you would. You'd normally hear a sound coming from the engine. There'd normally be some sort of grating sound, a grindy sound. As so sometimes it can be a little subtle but normally you should be able to hear something and certainly before the belt failed it probably made some very loud screeching noises. But by that point it's definitely too late.
Mark: So it's winter now in Vancouver which means no need for air-condition. Would it have been possible to have left this repair for warmer weather?
Bernie: So in this particular car, certainly you could have because as I said, the compressor's driven by its own belt. If you have a vehicle with a serpentine belt and that's a belt that drives all the components you really can't do that because you have to have that piece in there. Some cars you can actually get a shorter belt or an auxiliary pulley but it doesn't really make sense to do that for the most part. So the answer is, yes you could have left it but one thing about air-conditioning it actually provides an awesome defrosting function it's really just as useful in winter as it is in the summertime. I mean in the summer you want it to keep you cool but in the wintertime air-conditioning dries the air so it will defrost your windshield extremely quickly. And it's very noticeable if you have a car where you can turn the air-conditioning on and off with the defrost or triad you'll see just how effective having good working air-conditioning is. It will defrost your window very fast.
Mark: Or defog it
Bernie: Defog it, yeah. Exactly. Not frost. We say the word frost. Yeah, defog, get the fog off the inside of the windscreen. So yeah. It makes a huge difference and that's really a safety feature having that. And it actually saves you on fuel because you could sit in front of your house and turn the heat on for 10 minutes and then you've wasted a bunch of gas. But if you turn your air-conditioning on, one minute later its defogged and away you go. So it's a good thing to have working year round. And of course as it cycles year round it keeps everything moving and it actually keeps the components lasting longer than it would at other times of the year.
Mark: So there you go. If you have a Subaru in Vancouver and you need some maintenance or some repairs the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to keep your windows fog-free or any other kind of repairs or maintenance. You have to call ahead to book because they're busy, unlike many other shops. Or else checkout our website pawlikautomotive.com, our YouTube channel, Pawlik Automotive Repair, hundreds of videos on there on all makes and models and types of repairs as well. Thank you so much for listening to the podcast and thank you Bernie.
Bernie: Thank you Mark and thank you for watching. We really appreciate it.
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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 here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik. Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. How are you doing this morning Bernie?
Bernie: Doing well.
Mark: We're talking cars. Of course Pawlik Automotive, Bernie and Bernie have been repairing cars in Vancouver for 38 years and are 19 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver. Today we're talking about a 2007 Subaru Impreza that had a wheel bearing problem. What was going on with this Subaru?
Bernie: Well we'll just cut right to the problem, so have a listen to this. This is what was going on with this vehicle.
Mark: Okay, that sounds pretty catastrophic. What did you find was wrong?
Bernie: That was a recording of the noise from the rear wheel bearing in the vehicle while we were running it up on the hoist. That's a right rear wheel bearing. That gives you an indication of what a noisy wheel bearing sounds like. Now while you're driving your car on the road, it's a bit of a different sound, but it's similar. It's a great, grindy, groaning sound and it usually gets louder the faster you go.
Mark: Do you always test the vehicle on the hoist to verify what the noise is? Or where it's coming from?
Bernie: Yeah, we always do that because when you're driving a vehicle there's obviously four wheels, four wheel bearings, it's often difficult to decide which wheel bearing's making the noise. Sometimes it can sound like it's the left front wheel bearing when it's actually the front right wheel bearing. It's kind of odd that way. Once we put it up on a hoist we listen to it. Sometimes we can just walk by it, like in the case of that one, you don't need any listening equipment. Other times we use a stethoscope and we'll listen to all the bearings and see which ones are good and which ones are bad. In the case of this vehicle we actually found there was two bad ones. The right rear, which was the worst, and the right front was also making about 50% of that amount of noise. The other bearings, when you listen to them with a stethoscope, you don't even hear anything. There's just a little very quiet humming sound.
Mark: With it sounding that bad what did the rear wheel bearing look like once you took it apart?
Bernie: Well this one was really badly worn and we could go into looking at some pictures. This is the wheel bearing apart. You can see this okay?
Bernie: Awesome. This is the wheel bearing apart, so these are actually the ball bearings. There's a race which is where the bearings run sort of out of view here behind this dirty grease. Then there's a wheel hub that sits in the middle here, which I'll show you in a minute, but this ... I mean these bearings, you know the grease is supposed to be kind of a nice cleanish colour, sort of like this. These bearings are extremely badly worn. The balls, they're a polished ball, highly polished, and they start to chip after a while, so there'd be little chunks and pieces missing of the metal. Slowly that metal as it rolls around in this race, where the arrow points to, this is supposed to be a precision, beautiful, absolutely smooth piece of metal, but as you can see it's just all roughed up with metals transferred from the bearings to the race, to the race to the bearings. It just totally destroyed ... '07 Subaru here. Back to me.
Mark: How much longer would this have continued to squeal and before it finally completely failed?
Bernie: Well I'd say it was very close to a complete failure, however, I mean, I guess to define a complete failure to me would be like the wheel actually seizes up or something breaks, like the hub breaks off or the wheel actually goes flying off the car. I can't think if I've actually ever seen that happen on this type of wheel bearing, because by the time that would happen, there'd be so much play in the bearing, like the wheel would be flopping around and the brakes would start to feel funny. You know people just tend to fix them by the time they get that bad. I'd say this bearing is close to something getting worse, but it's hard to say. You know sometimes they can make noise for quite a long time, but this one here was getting very close.
Mark: What's the way to prevent that kind of wear?
Bernie: Well there really isn't. A wheel bearing on most cars ... now in the olden days, I don't know, 30, 40 years ago, and there's still the odd car that has a repackable wheel bearing, those are the kind of bearing where you actually take them apart. You clean them. You repack them with fresh grease. Any vehicle that doesn't have that, which is almost every vehicle nowadays, has a sealed wheel bearing, so there's nothing really you can do about it. The reason the bearing fails is that the seals will eventually deteriorate. Water will seep into the bearing. It'll damage the metal and damage the bearing. That's basically what happens with these bearings. The other thing too is if you hit a curb hard or something, that can also damage the bearing, but generally speaking, there's nothing you can do. They just wear out in their own time.
Mark: Am I right in assuming that everything was all good after you did the repairs?
Bernie: Yeah, really awesome. This vehicle also had a couple of really badly worn front tires as well, so we replaced all the tires. The two wheel bearings. Drove great. Really nice, quiet. If you can imagine from that video how loud that was on the hoist, how loud it would be to drive the car, almost unbearable. Even turning the radio up didn't really help too much, so afterwards really nice. Quiet, smooth, handled well, and safe.
Mark: Unlike a check engine light where you can just put a sticker over it, in this case you would have had to have your headphones on full blast to still drive the car and ignore the problem.
Bernie: Yeah. Yeah. Not a good idea.
Mark: Not a good idea. There you go. If you're looking for service for your vehicle in Vancouver the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to book ahead. They're busy or check out their website, PawlikAutomotive.com. Check out our YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair. There's hundreds of videos on there, or of course, if you're listening on iTunes to our podcast. Thanks, Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks, Mark.
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Mark: Hi it's Mark Bossert here, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast. We're here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, and we're talking cars. How you doing this morning, Bernie?
Bernie: Doing very well.
Mark: So 38 years of servicing vehicles in the Vancouver area, and 19 time winners so far of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by the customers. What are we talking about today, a 2017 Subaru Outback? What was going on with this vehicle?
Bernie: So we had this vehicle in the shop for a pre-purchase inspection, practically brand new vehicle, under 20,000 kilometres and we had a good look over the vehicle, found nothing wrong, which you expect on a car that new, but found a lot of new interesting features on this car. We've been servicing Subaru's for quite a long time, and there's a lot of neat features on this car that I wanted to just share.
Mark: Alright, so what did you find? What are some of these new features?
Bernie: Let's get straight into some pictures. There's our 2017 Subaru Outback, nice stylish looking car. This is a base model so nothing real fancy here. We'll get into some of the ... Let's have a look at some of the under hood features, so there's the engine, 2.5 litre in this car. It is available with a 3.6 cylinder model as well. This is the 2.5 ... It actually goes really nicely with this engine. Well interesting compared to some of the older models of Subaru, this uses a plastic intake, which is typical of a lot of modern cars. It's actually pretty simple and clean under the hood, there's not a lot of extra pipes and hoses and things like that. Everything's been cleaned up quite nicely, oil filter accessible from the top. The other interesting feature on this vehicle, of course, is it's ... Well what Subaru has done for quite a while, they've gone with a timing chain and not a belt, since around 2011 I guess, so this engine is a lot more like the 6 cylinder used to be. So far no head gasket problems with them, but who ... Time will tell how they go in the long run. What do we got here? Same engine view. I know I've got another one here in my pile of pictures somewhere. Yeah, there we go. You can see that in this view here, the oil filter, you can see the timing chain covered down the front. It's got variable valve timing as well, it ... They squeeze about as much power to this engine as they could, short of putting a turbo or super charger on it. Electric power steering as well, so one less accessory driven by a drive belt, so that's the under hood features of the car.
Mark: What type of transmission does this car use?
Bernie: It's got a CVT transmission, which I took a picture of that as well, which is for what it's worth, so there's a CVT transmission. One interesting feature of this transmission is quite short compared to what you would see on the regular automatic. These are available ... I believe they're available with the standard as well, I'm not 100% certain, but CVT is a pretty common feature, but the transmission extends from this arrow to this arrow, so it's actually very short. There's not a lot of gears and pieces in it, but not really-
Mark: So that ... What were looking at there left to right is front to back basically of the transmission.
Bernie: Exactly. This is the front, this is the back. You can actually see the front axle shaft, front left axle shaft here, so there's a differential assembly in the front, and then the extension housing in the back, which actually the transfer case features are function because it's all wheel driver incorporated throughout in a couple of different spots of the transmission, some in the back, and some in the front, which are out of view.
Mark: And the CVT, how ... What's your opinion on the CVT transmission?
Bernie: Well I'm not big fans of them, this car drove fine, and it's not a ... It seemed to work fine, but doing a little research, they have had some ... Subaru has had some problems with them and they've extended their warranty, which is a good thing. I know Nissan has used CVTs for quite a long time, and they had a lot of problems with them for, and again extended their warranty quite substantially. So the manufacturers, they want to use this technology because there's a lot of good things about it, but they ... A lot of them seem to have trouble getting it working properly. But as I say in the case of this car, it feels fine to drive. Hopefully once any warranty repaired items will keep the transmission going for a long time further.
Mark: So let's just maybe drill into this for just a second, CVT means constant variable transmission, so in theory than instead of a 7 speed or 9 speed or 3 speed transmission, you have an infinite amount of shifting basically, the trany will just provide the power the car needs based on the load?
Bernie: Exactly. It can be in any gear and the thing that's great about this and that's why a lot of engines have gone for electronic throttles or some engines that even have the valve trains are completely ... Not completely, but largely electronically controls of the valves can be open at different times then things aren't bound by gear ratios or timing chains, where things have to be precisely timed, they could be varied. So you can get the maximum power, the best fuel economy, the best exhaust emissions all wrapped up and all controlled by a computer, so there's good reasons to have it, did that answer your question?
Bernie: Good, perfect.
Mark: And how else ... What else did you notice about this car? What else ... Was there any of the-
Bernie: Couple other interesting features, if we go ... Well actually back under the hood, I really like this feature. Hood shocks, or hood struts, where Subaru used to have the typical prop rod where you'd lift the hood up and put the ... Hang the rod up. These have the shocks that hold the hood up, so that's a nice ... It's a simple thing, but it's a nice feature that's been missing from Subaru in the past, and especially being a technician working on a car, it's always appreciated to have these things. However, it's nice when they work, sometimes when they fail, people don't wanna spend the money to fix 'em and that can be a little disconcerting, but we can always put the rod in place then. Electric parking brake, this is a ... Maybe this is a good feature, maybe not. It's nice if you just pull a little lever and the brake locks on, and if you forget to take the brake off, no big deal 'cause as soon as you accelerate, the parking brake comes off automatically, so many cars use electric parking brakes these days, the hand lever or foot pedal seems to have pretty near disappeared, so Subaru's gone that route too. Again, it's good, however it leaves one less brake that you could have manually operated if you needed it, and also a lot more expensive to repair as time goes by, but a nice feature. It gives the car a nice modern feel. The other feature I found I really liked on this car is the front control arm bushings. The front ... The control arm is an arm that extends from the frame of the vehicle out to the wheel. The wheel of the car would be over ... Just out of the picture here, you can see the drive axle here, and this is ... The frame of the vehicle is here. Now the rear control arm bushing where I've got the red arrow pointing, in the older generation of Subaru's like back up to the second generation, these ... They had a bushing of a similar design, it was very durable. I owned a car myself for over 10 years. The car almost 300,000 kilometres when I finally packed it in, and the bushings were still in good shape. In the next generation, they went to a bushing that looked more like this tire. It was a vertical bushing with a bolt that went this direction, through the centre and they were really crappy. They did not last, not durable, and surprising that they even put it in a car that a lot of people will actually take on rougher roads, so they've gone back to this design here, very robust, so I was really pleased to see that. That's a really big improvement for Subaru, there's a ... Actually there's the same view. I had another closer up, there's another closer view of the bushing, so the rubber bushings in here, but the bracket is really solid and robust. This design is just much better. One final feature on the inside of the car, there's your electric parking brake lever. It's got a couple of electronic modes, one, the x-mode will lock the all wheel drive system so you have better traction in slippery roads, which is a great thing to have. Also, a hill mode too, so you can climb or go down steep hills and it'll lower the gear ratio. So it gives a ... Sort of features of a ... Maybe a multi-speed transfer case, but all done electronically. I think that's all we have in the way of pictures, so I'll bring myself back to the camera.
Mark: So you drove it, you inspected it, how ... What was ... What kind of score would you give this vehicle?
Bernie: I'd say really good. My only nit picky complaint is I hate the smell of the interior, it's got that horrible plastic smell and I find that I find it hard to breathe in that environment, but it's a nice car, and this is a base model and it had ... Really had the feel of a ... If you go back past a couple of generations, it had the quality and feel of a much nicer model. So really well built car. Again the CVT is hard to know how reliable it'll be. This is a 2017, so it still got lots of warranty left on it, and other than that, fantastic car, really nice to drive, good fuel economy too with the engine.
Mark: So there you go, if you're looking for service for your Subaru's or you need a pre purchase inspection for any brand, make model of car in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at (604)327-7112 to book your appointment. Check out their website, PawlikAutomotive.com, our Youtube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair, there's hundreds of videos on there, or hopefully you're listening on our new podcast. Thanks Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks Mark.
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Mark: Hi, it’s Mark from Top Local. We’re here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Thirty eight years servicing, repairing and maintaining cars in the Vancouver area and now 19 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver. Tell me Bernie, are you having to bribe people to become this best in Vancouver person?
Bernie: No, just seems to keep coming. So, it’s awesome, very fortunate.
Mark: As voted by your customers, that’s right. Alright, so we’re, enough foolery, let’s talk about cars. A 2008 Subaru Forester, what was going on with this vehicle?
Bernie: So the owner of this vehicle had experienced his temperature, his cooling temperature warning light coming on on some long highway drives. It would only, never occur around the city but on a long highway drive, a one or two hours out of Vancouver, maybe going up a bit of a hill, the red coolant warning light would click on, it’ll come on for a minute or two and go off. Just a little background on these Subarus. They always used to have a temperature gauge and some of them have gone away from that, this 08 Forester model for instance as an example. They have two lights. A blue light that comes on when the engine coolant temperature is cold, just a warning that the engine is int he warm up phase and them a red warning light that will come on only if the engine exceeds a certain temperature which is probably around 230 degrees Fahrenheit, somewhere around that range. It’s pretty hot before it’ll come on but it’s to warn you that your engine is running too hot and take action immediately. So this light was coming on and a little bit of a background story on this. A few weeks previously we repaired the head gaskets on this vehicle. He had a similar concern. We found a coolant actually leaking out of the head gaskets, so we did the head gasket repair, it was due for timing belt at the time, we did the full and complete job and he was back for re inspection on the vehicle which we do after a large major service like this to make sure there’s no fluid leaks and everything we’ve done is proper. And his only concern was that this light was coming on. So which concerned us a lot as well because it shouldn’t, certainly shouldn’t have been after all that repair.
Mark: And what did you find during your diagnosis and testing?
Bernie: So what we found at this point, we hooked up our scan tool and drove the vehicle to see what the actual coolant temperature was doing since there was no gauge on the dash to tell us and what we found as the engine was in fact running pretty hot. Sometimes up to about 220 degrees after a while which is definitely much too hot. Pressure tested the cooling system, there was no leaks, the coolant level was full, radiator fans are coming on as they were supposed to. So clearly there was another issue and what we found in testing is that the heater core was plugged. There was very little heat in the vehicle which we hadn’t noted and the owner had for some reason hadn’t mentioned to us either. But when I quizzed him and he just recently purchased his vehicle, he said yeah there has been no heat in the vehicle and I don’t know why I never thought to mention it to us and when were warming it up, we never, I guess it was a warm day, we never actually turned the heat on to see whether it was warm or not. So anyways, that was kind of a clue, there was something going on there that the heater core was plugged.
Mark: So the heater core is separate from the radiator, is that right, that’s actually inside the vehicle?
Bernie: That’s correct. The heater core is located under the dash and it’s a separate, its like a little mini radiator that you know, will take the heat from the engine and put it in the vehicle for our creature comforts which is pretty cool. Now most of the time it doesn’t matter if the heater core is plugged, the cooling system will bypass, but as we found out on a Subaru, actually a certain percentage of the coolant flows to the heater core and it actually relies on that coolant flow to keep the engine operating to actually dissipate the heat. So having a functional heater core or if you didn’t have one to actually make sure there’s a flow, you could actually bypass it, not that never want to, but that would actually allow the cooling system to flow properly. so having a blocked heater core actually does impede the coolant flow on this particular engine.
Mark: So what do you think happened that the heater core got plugged?
Bernie: Well actually, what we found was interesting. When we took the heater core out, you could, even actually before we took it out, so we hooked some hoses up to see if we could actually flow through it, it basically wouldn’t flow any, of sort of water but a lot of sludgy strange guck that looked like radiator sealer came out of it. So what we surmised is that previous to, this person just bought the vehicle recently, someone had probably had a leaking head gasket, they didn’t want to spend the money on it, they stuck some radiator sealer or engine block sealer or something in the system and that plugged up the heater core. I’ll just share a couple of pictures here. There’s our 2008 Subaru Forester and that is, actually for some reason I forgot to take a picture of the heater core itself, but just imagine a little mini radiator with an inlet and outlet. Well this is, we got a bucket and we saved what we poured out of the cooling system and this should a nice sort of yellowy green clear liquid but all this particulate matter and this grey colour is all from the radiator sealer that plugged the heater core. So as I, for some reason forgot to take a picture but you can see even in the inlet of the heater core, there was a lot of sludgy stuff inside there. So that’s definitely something you don’t want to see. This is an example of, this is a photograph with the dash removed of the car and the heater box out. So if you can see, there’s a bit of the steering wheel there, this shows the scope of the job, there’s the gear shifter, piece of the, part of the heater system that didn’t need to be removed and that’s basically, with the dash out.
Mark: So obviously replacing the heater core is a pretty major job?
Bernie: It’s huge, yeah. There’s very few cars where’s it’s easy. The only cars I can think of are in the ’80s, Ford had a couple of nice heater core jobs on Mustangs and Mercury Zephyrs where you could actually open the glove box, undo four bolts on a panel and slide the heater core out. You could do it in about an hour but that’s about the only car that I remember that’s been easy. Ever since then, it’s a lot of work, especially with air conditioning and all the integrated you know, we like all those nice vents and climate control and all these kinds of things and there’s you know, everything’s built very hi tech. So heater cores are not an easy job on any car.
Mark: So is there anything else that you did to the heating or and cooling system?
Bernie: Actually we were concerned that there might be some blockage in the radiator. So we flow tested that and it was fine. So fortunately, well unfortunately, the heater fore had to be replaced but fortunately the restriction was all inside the heater core. So we did re-flush the radiator, we tested it to make sure it wasn’t blocked, there was nothing in there so everything was good but we did verify that it was all good. And after a repair, we road tested it with our scan tool and the temperature was all, it never went over about 201 degrees Fahrenheit which is perfectly normal.
Mark: So I’m thinking that the lesson here is there’s no magic goop that you should be pouring in your engine?
Bernie: Yeah that’s one lesson. Yeah definitely avoid using radiator sealer. There are a couple that are good but you really got to know what you’re doing with these things. Most of them plug up radiators, heater cores, things you don’t want to block up. So yes, as you said, there’s no magic solutions. Usually they end up creating more problems than it’s worth. I had a radiator shop I used to deal with years ago and his comment to me was, I love, I’m not going to say the name of the brand, but it was a type of rad sealer, and he goes, I love the stuff because every time people put it in, it plugs the radiator. So just creates work for him. So that’s why you don’t want to use this stuff and except under extremely rare conditions and the right kind of sealer.
Mark: And just to dig in a little bit more, in fact probably the heater core being a smaller diameter radiator essentially, saved the major, the main radiator because it plugged up that instead of the main radiator?
Bernie: It might be. It’s sort of hard to say but yeah it might just be that the tubes are small enough in the heater core that they got plugged, it’s more like the other radiator just didn’t get plugged because the tubes are larger. That’s what I would surmise.
Mark: And so we don’t use magic goop. What was the other lesson that is to be learned here?
Bernie: Yeah, so this vehicle had just been purchased by somebody and so from what I gather, I mean, he came to us with this overheating issue and we found the head gaskets to be bad. Now had he brought the vehicle to us or to another mechanic, and had it looked at, they would have probably noted that the head gaskets were leaking and from there, they may not of noticed the heater core but they probably again, you know, testing the heating system, probably go hey there’s no heat in here, you know, your head gaskets are leaking. You might either want to walk away from this car or certainly negotiate for a better price. So again, pre-purchase inspection, have it looked at. It could save you a lot of money and grief.
Mark: So we talk a lot about Subarus. I know you’ve got one or two of them yourself, are they still good vehicles?
Bernie: Yeah, yeah I mean they’re great cars. This is the first time we’ve done a heater core in one and we work on hundreds of Subarus. So it’s not like they don’t go bad, but it’s pretty rare. I mean really the biggest thing is that the head gaskets on the you know, from about ’99 up to 2010 somewhere in that range, you know, they’re bad. Otherwise they’re good cars. I mean that’s a predictable problem but most every vehicle on the road has issues of some sort and other than that, they’re extremely reliable.
Mark: So there you go. If you’re looking for service for your Subaru inVancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment only please or check out their website pawlikautomotive.com there’s literally hundreds of videos, podcasts, articles on there about repairing all sorts of vehicles or as I mentioned our new Podcast on iTunes Pawlik Automotive Repair or check us out on YouTube. Thanks Bernie
Bernie: Thanks Mark
Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local. We're here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, Vancouver's best auto service experience. How you doing, Bernie?
Bernie: I'm doing good.
Mark: We're talking about a 2011 Subaru WRXSTI, has a lot of digits. What is going on with this vehicle?
Bernie: This vehicle was brought to us by a used car dealer who is exporting the vehicle to the US for sale. And the, one of the requirements for the vehicles that export to the US is it has to have a tire pressure monitoring system in it. Which this vehicle doesn't. In the Canadian market you don't need the tire pressure monitoring unit, it was never sold with it. But in the US you do need to have that. So we had to do a custom installation on that.
Mark: So that sounds like it might be quite a bit of complicated stuff to do, to install that. Is that right?
Bernie: It was. It's something, yeah, absolutely. There was a lot of complexity involved. A lot of research. And a number of different parts required.
Mark: So had you ever done this kind of a service on a Subaru previously?
Bernie: We have never done this on a Subaru. The only vehicle we did, it was many years ago, we put a tire pressure monitoring system in a Volkswagen. And at the time it was okay to export it with an aftermarket system, with a dash mounted unit. But that's no longer allowed. It has to be exactly like original. So yeah, we've never done anything like this. It was definitely a first time.
Mark: So what's involved in installing a TPMS on this WRX Subaru?
Bernie: Well there's a number of parts. And a lot of rewiring. And a lot of research. You know, before anything happened we had to do a lot of research to figure out what parts were needed.
So I'll just show a few pictures here of a couple of items. Here is a photo of our nice STIWRX. Nice high performance, fast moving, turbo, all wheel drive, machine. This is some of the, this is the, looking at the wiring of the actual module. This is the TPMS module. This is one of the main components we had to install. And we had to purchase this module. This is sold in the US. It does tire pressure monitoring and keyless entry. Whereas the one in Canada, there's a module there but it only does keyless entry. The other thing we came across is the wiring connector. In the Canadian model it's a small connector with three wires. This one is a 12 pin plug, this is the US model, 12 pin plug with seven wires. So we had to acquire that from an auto wrecker as well. And then figure out how to wire that all in. And just as a last look, that's an actual picture of the module. So I kept a lot of documentation and information on this vehicle because I'm certain at some point we may have to do it again. So that's that. And also, I know this isn't gonna show very well on the screen, but this is a wiring diagram of the actual TPMS module. So that's where we got a lot of information. Studied it and figure out what wires go to where, and then after that it's a matter of just poking around under the hood and seeing what happens.
Mark: Okay, that sounds like a lot of work so far, what happened next?
Bernie: Yeah. So basically the lot of work includes, the other item I didn't mention is we had to install a tire pressure monitoring sensor in each wheel. So we did that. We put the module in. Figured out all the wiring. Wired it all up. The next step is to actually program the sensors to the computer. So we have the tool to do that. So we did that. Plugged it all in and of course I'm saying a little prayer, and it all worked really well. Just like it was in there from the factory.
Mark: Sounds like a great success story and the car was exported successfully to the United States?
Bernie: Yup. Yeah.
Mark: Would you be interested in doing that again? The same thing?
Bernie: Oh yeah, absolutely. Now that we've done the Subaru I know for certain what needs to be done. One other thing I didn't mention is that the instrument panel needed to be replaced in a mile per hour format, reprogrammed. And the owner of this vehicle happened to have some connections and knew someone who did that kind of electronic programming. So this is another thing that needs to be done that I didn't mention. That we didn't do. But he had taken care of. So that helped out too. Cause the tire pressure monitoring light doesn't work, switch on in a Canadian car, so that had to be functional. But yeah, it's absolutely something we can do. As far as doing it on other brands of cars, it's really a matter of doing some research and finding out. But it is a lot of work and it is expensive. So if you're interested and you're in the Vancouver area call me and we can give you a quote or a guesstimate, because we never know until we get into it as to what it will cost.
Mark: So there you go. If you're looking to export a Subaru or just need service on a Subaru in Vancouver, the guys to call are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book. You must book ahead, they're busy. Or check out their website, pawlikautomotive.com we've got five years worth of videos on there. Or our YouTube channel Pawlik Auto Repair. Thanks Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks Mark.
Mark: Hi it’s Mark from Top Local, we’re here with Bernie Pawlik at Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. We're talking about a Subaru Legacy. Having some issues with Google+ this morning, Google Hangouts. It's always an adventure. How you doing Bernie?
Bernie: I'm doing pretty well. It is an adventure. Hopefully, the technology will work with us this time.
Mark: We've talked a lot about Subaru's in the past, this is a Legacy, but this time it's a engine replacement, which is a bit extreme. Is this pretty common with these motors?
Bernie: No, it's not. We do a lot of head gaskets, as we've talked about in the past. We probably do at least one or two a month, maybe even more. Head gaskets tend to leak on Subaru's, but engines themselves are very reliable. We very rarely ever replace an engine.
Mark: 2002 is getting a bit old for that level of repair. Is it worth it?
Bernie: It's really up to the owner of the vehicle. This person had just recently bought this vehicle, unfortunately, but it's in really nice shape. I'll share a photo of it. There's our 2002 Legacy. I mean, the car looks pretty much brand new, the mileage is pretty low on this vehicle, and it actually, with the exception of the issue with the engine, is actually running fine at the time. I'm going to cut the photo here, if I can remember how to do that. Am I back? Yes, I am.Is it worth it? It's really up to the individual owner. With every car, people often attach a value, "Oh, it's only worth this much, so I'm only going to spend half of the value on repair". People have these, in my opinion, crazy equations, but really, at the end of the day, when you own a car it's how much money you're sending out the door for the privilege or whatever it is, the cost of driving. To me, that's the only thing you really need to look at. If you buy a brand new car, you're not doing a lot of repairs, but you're spending 3, 500, 1,000 bucks a month on payments. You know, when you have an old car, you might spend 3-4,000 bucks one year changing an engine, and then you don't spend any more money. When you work that out into monthly payments, it's much lower. It's still money that's going out the door. Anyways, is it worth it? It's very much up to the owner, but this car was in good shape. We'd done an inspection previously on it, and stated that everything was actually in pretty good working order otherwise.
Mark: What was the presenting problem and what did you do to solve it?
Bernie: Basically, the vehicle came to us, he was driving down the highway and all of a sudden, it started developing a knocking noise in the engine, which is never good. Got to the shop, we started it up, you could heard something very severe in the bottom of the engine going knock, knock, knock, knock, knock. When we arranged for an engine replacement, and he authorized the job, we decided to drive the vehicle into the shop to get repairs done, and halfway through the parking lot the engine just seized up. Something broke inside and that was the end of his engine, so he got here just at the right time.
Mark: These are typically pretty reliable, why did it ... What was the cause of the problem?
Bernie: I would say the cause of the problem on this one was bad maintenance. As we mentioned many times before, bad maintenance, lack of oil changes, really contributes to a lot of problems. Really, most of the time, whenever we see an engine problem, it's due to bad maintenance. Now, the head gaskets on a Subaru, you can be meticulous with your oil changes, and they're still going to leak, because that's a bit of a design defect, but the engines in a Subaru, if you change the oil regularly, keep the oil level full, you really never ever have any problems with the bottom end of the engine. What had happened with this engine, is that it ... Unfortunately, I have lost my photos to share, but we'll put them up on the webpage. When you look at the picture of what was in the oil pan, there's a lot of metal debris, but it was also, you could see a layer of sludge. This accumulates, people go over on their oil changes too frequently, maybe they missed an oil change, eventually things build up, and it causes a problem. If I can fire one thing home here, change your oil, which we've talked about so many times. Change you oil when it's due, don't wait. It's cheap.
Mark: If you want a great oil change, where they actually look at all the rest of your vehicle and make sure that it's running properly, and let you know, give you a really good diagnosis about what is coming up, what needs to be changed, what might need to be changed in the future, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. They're at least sixteen, maybe seventeen time winners of Best in Vancouver, as voted by their customers, best auto repair shop in Vancouver, and you can reach them at 604-327-7112, or check out their website PawlikAutomotive.com. Thanks Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks Mark