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Did Timing Belt, Dealer Didn't Do Cam/crank Seals, What Should I D

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I had the timing belt serviced on my 2002LS430, water pump, thermostat, asked him to do the cam and crank seals as I read these forums religiously. Upon pickup, he tells me that the service tech told him that they weren't leaking, and that to take them out when they are "dry" is a big job and that it's not the best thing for the engine and to wait for them to start leaking before changing them out and then they're easy to change. Everything I've read here says to do it before it's a problem, as the major labor is in getting to them. The dealer guy is pretty good and helped me out a number of times. What should I do?

Adam

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You should phone him back and thank him. If an experienced tech says they don't need doing, they don't. It is a big job to change them, especially the cam seals, and if they are dry, they're working. If it ain't broke don't fix it - is a good way to view these things. He just saved you some money.

I used to tell customers that I'll fix their car as if it were mine. If they disagreed, or wanted me to do work that I knew was not needed, I sent them packing.

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The seals plus labor aren't that much money once the car is opened up enough to get to timing belt which is why I've read that it is better to be done at that time. To do it on it's own is very labor intensive. Anyway, I do appreciate your opinion. Just trying to figure out what is best. I'm just upset that they didn't consult me on this earlier, when I could have either kept quiet or insisted. In your opinion, it worked out for the best though. Thanks so much.

You should phone him back and thank him. If an experienced tech says they don't need doing, they don't. It is a big job to change them, especially the cam seals, and if they are dry, they're working. If it ain't broke don't fix it - is a good way to view these things. He just saved you some money.

I used to tell customers that I'll fix their car as if it were mine. If they disagreed, or wanted me to do work that I knew was not needed, I sent them packing.

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You're right to want to do preventative servicing. Chances are that if the seals were fine upon inspection this time, they're not going to present a big prob until your next TB. Usual procedure is to check each time you do the TB. As for the dealer not informing you before completing the job, it's unusual for any tech to drop his tools in the middle of a job to call the owner if the service is going well. Most times when you get a call it's because there are surprises or it's an estimate and they're calling for authorization to go ahead with the repair.

Sounds like you have established a good relationship with your dealer. If he's helped you in the past, I would say he's earned your trust and respect for his judgement. Just make sure you communicate everything you need to before any work gets started so there is no misunderstanding as to what's getting done and how much it's going to cost. Oh yeah, one more thing, get all estimates in writing every time. Just good biz.

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When I did my timing belt last year I did not replace the cam seals. They looked perfect and had no leaks. I think they may have been replaced at the previous timing belt interval. I tried prying on them and they did not want to budge at all. Dry and tight like your mechanic told you. B)

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I used to tell customers that I'll fix their car as if it were mine. If they disagreed, or wanted me to do work that I knew was not needed, I sent them packing.

Really?

I think that the problem with you fixing cars "as if they were yours" is that it is a gamble you can afford since you can drop everything and fix your own sled if it fails. I seriously doubt that your unilateral decision to not replace the seals in this case would equate to a labor guarantee if the seals required replacement in the near future. Would you waive the hours of disassembly/reassembly to get at the seals if you were wrong? Or simply shrug and say that they didn't need it when you looked, but now they do? Poor customer service rarely equates to fair treatment for the consumer.

That I bring my property to you for service, does not give you special authority to treat it like your own. If I have you come to my house as a contractor to perform a specific service, I doubt seriously that you would pull the same silly "I do what I want to your property" routine.

I think the OP was trying to save himself some expense and headache down the road, and since he was paying to have his engine gutted, perhaps the company could have honored his request and done as he asked? Unreasonable? Not if he is paying the bill.

With all due respect, if you are changing my radiator and I ask you to replace the water pump, belts and hoses while you are in there and everything is accessible, I think you are being unreasonable to argue the point. I would even go so far as to take a "Sent packing" invitation as a blessing.

To the OP: I understand that you are annoyed at being treated like a stooge with a wallet and as if your desires do not matter. I would speak to the Service Manager and ask them to write you a guarantee to go with their decision to not do as you asked. Ask them to warrant that they will cover the labor for the removal/reinstallation to get at the seals if you are to develop a problem over the next xx,000 miles. Seems only fair since you asked them to do it and they decided not to.

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My attitude and opinion and skills are what my customers come to me for. If they are convinced that items need replacing when they don't, they are free to find someone to do it for them, if I advise against it. Certainly my ethical standards are beyond reproach, and I will not be a party to excessive repair "padding" or unwarranted repairs. My work has been and will always be guaranteed. But I do not guarantee items that I do not repair. To do so is foolish.

My motto was, by the way, "I choose my customers as much as they choose me". That has served me well for over two decades.

There are certainly more people whose experience with the automotive repair industry is to complain about the high cost of repairs than to complain that they weren't charged enough. I am speaking specifically about automotive repair, and not home renovations.

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There is a huge gulf between padding repairs and doing what you are contracted to do. To try to compare the two is being disingenuous and dishonest.

In fact, a case could be made that the dealer is actually padding future repairs by not performing the requested maintenance when the bulk of the labor had already been done for the timing belt replacement.

The OP did not tell (notice I said tell? property owners don't have to beg...) the dealer to inspect the seals and replace if necessary, he researched the issue on these boards before-hand, took the advice of knowledgable people and mechanics alike, and gave instructions to replace the seals while they were exposed. The OP was aware that the seals probably did not need replacing but decided, as the owner of the vehicle has the right to do, to spend the extra money to ensure that his vehicle will last. This is a decision that the owner gets to make, and not the mechanic. Unless of course the mechanic wants to start paying the bills...or provide a guarantee that the part won't fail.

If the service manager disagreed, then he should have said something to the owner of the vehicle prior to the service.

So...the Manager decided that the car was not really the property of the owner and that he as Service Manager could make decisions as to the outcome and maintenance of the actual owners' property. The Service Manager did not call or even give the owner enough respect to include him in the decision. Just not right.

SRK, I don't doubt that you did good by your customers, and I suspect that you had more than your share of people who have no idea the difference between a radiator cap and a ball cap. I suspect you treated these people's cars "like they were yours" because you were probably the only technically minded person to touch them. These mechanically ignorant people (not an insult, they simply do not know anything about mechanical stuff) need someone like you to take care of them and look after their best interest. I salute you for that. I would send my mechanically ignorant mother to your shop for repairs because I could feel comfy that you will do what needs done and no more.

Not everyone can be treated like a child, however. In this case, the OP is smart enough to know what he wants done to his car, is aware of the costs and is willing to bear those costs as insurance against future problems. The OP did not need someone to act as his father and override his decision without a conversation. OP is NOT mechanically ignorant and is reasonably upset.

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One way to prevent an issue like this one from occurring is for the owner to specify at the time he brings the car in, that he be contacted before any changes are made to the service requested. In this instance, the OP has a reasonable case to ask for the dealer to waive labor charges in the event that the seals need to be replaced before the next TB. Unlikely imo, if the they were dry on inspection.

Nevertheless, I agree with Billy that the dealer had the responsibity to explain details of the service he intended to perform before undertaking it and to contact the OP before initiating changes to the service. I suspect the changes were done without prior contact because of the percieved relationship they have and the possibility that this has happened on other occaisions to the benefit of the OP.

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I will agree with you that the service manager could have handled the decision of his technician better, and related it in a more professional manner to the customer. Obviously the OP is concerned with the condition and reliability of his car, and has every right to be.

We may be down to semantics. The aspects which are maintenance, and those that are repairs, may be the sticking point. Certainly I am guilty of making statements to customers - sometimes forcefully - for the need for maintenance, and the horrors that follow from not observing correct intervals ( an intermittently sticking turbocharger comes to mind - it would stop and then turn due to the condition of the engine oil - and the customer never did allow me to service the engine properly as he just wanted brakes done ) and then those things which are replaced only when they fail, or shown signs of incipient failure.

I'm confident that the OP got good service, but was treated on an inter-personal level a bit dismissively. I see that now.

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I will agree with you that the service manager could have handled the decision of his technician better, and related it in a more professional manner to the customer. Obviously the OP is concerned with the condition and reliability of his car, and has every right to be.

We may be down to semantics. The aspects which are maintenance, and those that are repairs, may be the sticking point. Certainly I am guilty of making statements to customers - sometimes forcefully - for the need for maintenance, and the horrors that follow from not observing correct intervals ( an intermittently sticking turbocharger comes to mind - it would stop and then turn due to the condition of the engine oil - and the customer never did allow me to service the engine properly as he just wanted brakes done ) and then those things which are replaced only when they fail, or shown signs of incipient failure.

I'm confident that the OP got good service, but was treated on an inter-personal level a bit dismissively. I see that now.

I see the point you are trying to make about honest business, but as an example everywhere on this and other forums it is almost universally recommended to change water pump, idlers, etc. when a timing belt is changed since all the "work" has been done to get to that point. Is this not the same thing? A similar thing happened to me on my Ford Expedition (150,00 miles). I had leaking rear wheel seals and asked them to replace the bearings too since they where right there. Another $50 to a $400 dollar job. Went to pick up the vehicle and they "inspected" them and didn't replace. So now if they fail I'm out another $450 dollars instead of the $50. Plus I specifically said "replace" not "inspect". It was even written on the service order. The mechanic should have advised but the decision is up to the owner.

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I had leaking rear wheel seals and asked them to replace the bearings too since they where right there. Another $50 to a $400 dollar job. Went to pick up the vehicle and they "inspected" them and didn't replace. So now if they fail I'm out another $450 dollars instead of the $50. Plus I specifically said "replace" not "inspect". It was even written on the service order. The mechanic should have advised but the decision is up to the owner.

Exactly.

A trusted knowledgable mechanic who is familiar with your vehicle model is a valuable thing indeed. I like to discuss ideas and consider mechanic recommendations and I like feedback on my thoughts, but the final decision is mine.

Had the Service Manager told OP that pulling the dry seals out could potentially cause more problems like scoring of the surfaces and that he highly recommended letting them be, I am sure OP would have deferred to his mechanic's knowledge in these things and felt good about the decision. What we have here is failure to communicate... :D

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If I was handed a repair order (in my 25yrs as a dealership mechanic) stating replace the seals, I replaced the seals. It's a no brainer that my boss would have me redoing it again for free if they leaked, or if the owner was unhappy they were not done. That repair order is a contract. If I dont think they need replacing or I just dont want to change them for my own personal reasons then the customer must agree on this change before the new timing belt gets put on, period.

Now my own opinion. I dont think you need those seals replaced. When I did my belt at 110,000 I left the seals alone. They still dont leak at 170,000 miles. Heck I didn't even need the belt, water pump and all the bearings I did replace. They all looked great. My jugement call was to leave the seals alone.

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I appreciate all of the feedback, if not all the debate. I called up an independent Lexus repair place and he agreed that he always does the crank seal when doing the timing belt (very little labor involved), but doesn't do the cam seal unless there is a leak as it is quite an involved task. So, it wasn't done, I wish I had been informed DURING the process, I guess I won't raise a big fuss, and I'll hope that nothing leaks for another 90,000 miles. I just wanted to be smart about maintenance. Happy to hear more opinions or experiences about it though. More info is a good thing.

Adam

If I was handed a repair order (in my 25yrs as a dealership mechanic) stating replace the seals, I replaced the seals. It's a no brainer that my boss would have me redoing it again for free if they leaked, or if the owner was unhappy they were not done. That repair order is a contract. If I dont think they need replacing or I just dont want to change them for my own personal reasons then the customer must agree on this change before the new timing belt gets put on, period.

Now my own opinion. I dont think you need those seals replaced. When I did my belt at 110,000 I left the seals alone. They still dont leak at 170,000 miles. Heck I didn't even need the belt, water pump and all the bearings I did replace. They all looked great. My jugement call was to leave the seals alone.

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I appreciate all of the feedback, if not all the debate. I called up an independent Lexus repair place and he agreed that he always does the crank seal when doing the timing belt (very little labor involved), but doesn't do the cam seal unless there is a leak as it is quite an involved task. So, it wasn't done, I wish I had been informed DURING the process, I guess I won't raise a big fuss, and I'll hope that nothing leaks for another 90,000 miles. I just wanted to be smart about maintenance. Happy to hear more opinions or experiences about it though. More info is a good thing.

Adam

Sorry all the debate didn't sit well.

It is annoying when you educate yourself on something, make a decision to spend a little extra in preventative maintenance, then have an employee decide that your desires don't matter.

While better communication would have defused all this, based on the expert opinions voiced, the reality seems to be that you will probably be just fine until your next TB change.

:cheers:

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Hi,

I know this thread is a little old, but I am going to add my two cents.

I have a 98 LS that had cam seals leaking. It is a huge job. The dealer and all data quote 20+ hours for replacing them. I did it in my driveway and it took longer than 28 hours. The cam seals can be removed without removing the timing belt (at least on 98's) I have done it this way. The camshafts have to come out and be dissasembled for the cam seal to be removed. This can be done from the top. Lexus of Clearwater does not recommend replacing them as part of the timing belt.

You can see the seal on the cam in the picture.

The crank seal is very easily accessible when the timing belt is removed and should have been replaced. It is very inexpensive to do at that time.

Good Luck,

Fblonk

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Fblonk your two cents are a refreshing dose of reality. Thanks for posting.

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