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Hi,

I think I just spent money that I shouldn't have :( . I took my new 98 ES300 to a Toyota dealership for service this morning. The car has only 48k miles on it and runs great. Orginally I just wanted to change the oil, transmission, differential plus the regular service. He quoted the 30k package for $380.

The guy called me later and said should change also the brake fluid, steering, clean the injection and change the belts. Guess what, I said yes and the bill went up to $1100.

Now I am regretting for what I did. That was really stupid :blushing: , especially after checking the service manual and reading the posts that I don't really need to change belts until 90k. Can somebody tell me I wasn't THAT stupid???

Well, damage is done (that is, to my bank account) and lesson learned.

Can you give me detail advice as to what services I need down the road? Sorry I don't know much about car but I am serious in keeping it in tip-top condition.

Also, I read that usually when they change the belts the water pump is also changed. Should I be concerned about that they didn't change the water pump? When do I need to do it?

Thanks in advance.

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$1100? Ouch. I hope they gave you some Vaseline on your way out the door. Just because you drive a luxury car doesn't always mean you need to overpay for service. You could have taken your car to an independent mechanic to get the same thing done for much less. Unless the problem is electrical or overly complex and specific to Lexus, the stealership hardly ever sees my car.

That point aside, isn't it nice to know that everything is now fresh and new. The problem w/ buying a used car is that you never really know the maintenance history (unless the previous owner is anal retentive like me and keeps all of the records). Now that you have done the maintenance, you'll be set for a while and you'llnever have to wonder if it should be done or not.

Feel bad about paying too much, but feel good about taking care of your car.

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Took the car from the dealership this evening. The good thing is it does feel a lot smoother. The bad thing is by looking at the invoice, I am pretty sure I was ripped off.

Here's the breakdown:

Replace timing and engine belts $400 (labor 280, parts 120)

Throttle body service $ 90 (labor 72, parts 18)

Fuel injector $120 (labor 85, parts 35)

Power steering fluid $ 70 (labor 41, parts 29)

Brake fluid $100 (labor 57, parts 43)

Major service - oil change (synthetic), replace transmission fluid, differential fluid, replace air filter, brake service, lube $320

For those of you who have experience in this, please tell me how bad these figures are?!

Lesson 1: Do your homework - be an educated consumer

Lesson 2: Don't trust the dealership

Lesson 3: Toyota service is not necessarily cheaper

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Well... overall it is not too bad in my opinion. They probably overcharged by $100-200 based on Toyota's standard, but it would of being much more at the Lexus dealership! Just call them and ask for the breakdown in cost and you will be astonished.

The water pump does not need to be replaced. I am sure that they would tell you if there are any problems -- when the timing belt cover comes off -- you can see the water pump clearly. And they would not hesitate to ask for another $300-400...

Out of curiosity... Which Toyota dealership in NYC did you take it to?

Best wishes,

Alex

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The water pump does not need to be replaced. I am sure that they would tell you if there are any problems -- when the timing belt cover comes off -- you can see the water pump clearly.

Replacing the water pump when a timing belt is changed is considered a good idea. In fact most dealers will always suggest this option because changing this item is much easier when they're doing this type of job(timing belt). I wouldn't cut corners in this respect, especially when you want some insurance for the future trouble free operation of your car.

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Well the bill was pricy to be sure, but you should have reletively trouble free service out of your for a fairly long time with the exception of regular oil & filter changes. Does the car at least "feel" :blink: better overall than before you went into the "stealership"? Welcome to the club by the way! :)

:cheers:

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Here's the breakdown:

Replace timing and engine belts  $400 (labor 280, parts 120)

Throttle body service                  $  90 (labor  72, parts  18)

Fuel injector                              $120 (labor  85, parts  35)

Power steering fluid                    $  70 (labor  41, parts  29)

Brake fluid                                $100 (labor  57, parts  43)

Major service - oil change (synthetic), replace transmission fluid, differential fluid, replace air filter, brake service, lube            $320

Here's how alot of money could have been saved while at

the same time still using high quality factory original fluids and lubes:

1. Timing and engine belt replacement could have waited to 90,000.

Water pump life is generally 10-15 years or 150-250,000 miles

if genuine Toyota long life coolant and distilled water is always

used (which is also the factory original coolant mixture). So

water pump needs to be replaced only every 2nd timing belt change.

2. Throttle body service is important, but you could have done it

yourself using a toothbrush, some old rags and a $3 can of carburetor

cleaner.

3. Fuel injector service is unnecessary and a waste if

you always use a major brand premium grade of gasoline.

4. You could suck the old the power steering fluid out yourself using

a 6 foot long, $3 piece of vinyl tubing that you can get from a hardware store.

Measure amount remove and replace it with an identical amount of

genuine Toyota auto trans fluid (Dexron type). Only $3.50 a quart

and less than one quart needed.

5. You could change the brake fluid yourself with a $5 one man

brake bleeder device and three, $4 pints of genuine Toyota Brake fluid

available from Toyota dealers.

6. Genuine Toyota Engine Oil is available from dealers for $1.50 - $2.00 a quart

a specially formulated for Toyota engines and can protect a Lexus

engine for 500,000+ miles. So synthetic motor oil is a waste except

if you live in below zero winter climates.

7. Draining and refilling the automatic transmission oil pan

involves the purchase of only 2-3 quarts of genuine Toyota auto trans

fluid for about $3.50 a quart. Measure amount drained and add

back an identical amount. Transmission "flushing" is

a waste except in extreme cases of transmission neglect and

fluid contamination.

8. The air filter costs only $12 from Toyota dealers.

9. One of the most important of all services that was not done

on your car is cooling system service. Again fairly simple: just

drain radiator, remove and replace thermostat and thermostat

gasket with genuine Toyota replacements then refill system with a 50/50

mix of genuine Toyota long life antifreeze and distilled water.

Flushing is not needed nor is draining the engine block if Toyota

coolant is always used exclusively and changed every few years.

If you live in a dusty or buggy area the radiator and air conditioning

condenser fins should be cleaned using detergent and water

from a garden hose.

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Although monarch makes some valid points, I have to disagree on a couple of points he makes. The difference between synthetic oil vs. Dino oil.....it's true you can get a lot of milage on any oil as long as it's changed as per the owners manual, the synthetic has much better protection overall in the long run for many reasons (to many to mention here) not just for extreme cold temperature pumpability (search google & you will probobly find a million or so). Second I disagree with a quick drain & fill on the automatic transmission service. Would you only drain 1/3 of your engine oil & use the old filter again? Same can be said for an engine coolant flush, is it really necessary to change all the fluid? :rolleyes: So why neglect a complete transmission fluid cnange? :blink: A complete fluid change is wise & in my opinion a small investment to make compared to replacing a new (rebuilt) Lexus transmission. That way you get 100% of the fluid out (including the torque converter) change the pan gasket & clean the filter mesh at the same time. No place in the owners manual does it state that you shouldn't change all the fluid. Just make sure you use the type of fluid that is recommended in the owners manual depending if it calls for either dexron fluid or Toyota type IV which the 2 are different fluids. The synthetic oil issue, as well as the transmission flush have been a matter of debate on other threads (look under general maintenance) on this site should you want to research them. :whistles:

:cheers:

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ouch.

that's some bill.

i can find a 1mz-fe engine with accessories for 500 bucks with 50 000 miles on it. it's on ebay right now. hehe

but you learned a good lesson. i guess that's all it matters.

someone go ahead and clear this for me. I went to the lexus dealership, they said i will need to change my Timing belt at 120 000 miles.

are you sure it's at 90 000?

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You guys are great. My wife gave me a lot of grief last nite...oh well...

Lexusfreak, honestly the engine does feel a lot smoother. Didn't notice much difference in braking or steering though. Re transmission fluid, would they have used the 'wrong' type? Should I ask the dealership what fluid they used?

Monarch, good point re coolant. I didn't do it because the previous owner had it flushed at Jiffy lube at 40k mi.

Latoilette, my owner manual says change belts at 90k if driven at extreme conditions. So what your dealership says has some truth in it.

Questions:

1 I am interested to know what kind of maintenance/services you do it by yourself vs. done at a dealership/mechanics?

2 What's the best way to learn how to do those services by myself ? Read a general car maintenance book? Service manual for my car (maybe an overkill for me)? Good how-to guide on the web? It may sound like a dumb question to you but you're talking about someone who doesn't even open the hood to check the fluid level!

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Questions:

1 I am interested to know what kind of maintenance/services you do it by yourself vs. done at a dealership/mechanics?

2 What's the best way to learn how to do those services by myself ? Read a general car maintenance book? Service manual for my car (maybe an overkill for me)? Good how-to guide on the web? It may sound like a dumb question to you but you're talking about someone who doesn't even open the hood to check the fluid level!

In response to your questions...

1) It really depends on one's level of comfort and knowledge. For instance, I am fairly mechanically inclined and was able to replace the starter on my '95 ES300 last year with no training or prior experience. I have no problems changing the oil (although it is a serious PITA to get to the filter, and then it always drips the residual oil over the bottom of the engine :angry: ). I bought a jack and stands from Northern last year thinking that I would start doing alot more maintenance myself, but I find that it is just easier and less time consuming to go to my mechanic for most things. I have a slight warp in one of my rotors now and I will probably let the garage take care of that one as well. I also have an O2 sensor that needs to be replaced and I just ordered that so I can put it in this weekend.

2) It sounds like you don't know too much about mechanics, so I would start by buying a basic Hayes or Chilton manual and learn the overall layout of the engine compartment. Know where all of the fluid dipsticks are. Pull up the dipsticks (NOT WHILE THE ENGINE IS HOT) and look at the fluid. Rub it on your fingers and smell it if you want. That way it's easy to tell later what that spot on the driveway is...

You should be able to open the hood and look inside to know what most everything in there is, and what it does on the car. Even if you're not going to fix it yourself, it helps prevent getting robbed by a shady mechanic.

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the synthetic has much better protection overall in the long run for many reasons (to many to mention here) not just for extreme cold temperature pumpability (search google & you will probobly find a million or so). Second I disagree with a quick drain & fill on the automatic transmission service. Would you only drain 1/3 of your engine oil & use the old filter again? Same can be said for an engine coolant flush, is it really necessary to change all the fluid? :rolleyes: So why neglect a complete transmission fluid cnange? :blink: A complete fluid change is wise & in my opinion a small investment to make compared to replacing a new (rebuilt) Lexus transmission. That way you get 100% of the fluid out (including the torque converter) change the pan gasket & clean the filter mesh at the same time. No place in the owners manual does it state that you shouldn't change all the fluid. Just make sure you use the type of fluid that is recommended in the owners manual depending if it calls for either dexron fluid or Toyota type IV which the 2 are different fluids. The synthetic oil issue, as well as the transmission flush have been a matter of debate on other threads (look under general maintenance) on this site should you want to research them. :whistles:

:cheers:

lexusfreak, the synthetic oil makers have had 25 years to provide real world proof to the public that synthetic oil dramatically extends engine life. They have failed to do so. And Nissan, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Mazda - none of them recommend synthetic motor oils. And most long haul trucking companies still use dino oils because there are no dramatic benefits to using synthetic.

With regard to transmission oil changes, once again Nissan, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Mazda engineers say just draining and refilling the oil pan is sufficient to deliver hundreds of thousands of miles of trouble free life. The commercial interests that promote total transmission fluid changes have had 15 years to provide real world proof to the public that total fluid exchanges dramatically extend transmission life. They have failed to do so.

With regard to coolant changes, just draining and refilling the radiator with Toyota coolant and distilled water is an effective way of keeping the cooling system spotlessly clean inside because the system is never exposed to tap water. Flushing with tap water, on the other hand, results in some tap water being trapped in the system which later produces a bit of minteral build up in the system.

So a system that is regularly flushed with tap water will not stay as clean as one that just has the radiator periodically drained and refilled with the factory original coolant mixture.

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lexusfreak, the synthetic oil makers have had 25 years to provide real world proof to the public that synthetic oil dramatically extends engine life. They have failed to do so. And Nissan, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Mazda - none of them recommend synthetic motor oils. And most long haul trucking companies still use dino oils because there are no dramatic benefits to using synthetic.

Not to argue the point about synthetic, but...

He is driving a Lexus, not a Nissan, Mazda, Mitsubishi, or Toyota (although Toyota does make Lexus). I would say go with synthetic. Besides, most long haul trucking companies are using incredibly large diesel engines which is an entirely different beast than our puny 6 cyls.

My '99 Mercedes C280 does specifically recommend synthetic oil (Mobil 1 at that) for the engine. All Mercedes from '98 onward with the FSS recommend synthetic. It is my understanding tha newer Audis and BMWs are switching (or already have switched) to recommending synthetic as well for their cars. Our local Lexus dealer in VB recommends synthetic for my Dad's LS 430.

Does it dramically extend engine life? That point would be tough to argue since there are many factors involved other than just motor oil. I don't really know one way or the other. I would however say that you could probably go longer between oil changes with synthetic.

Again, according to MB, I could potentially drive up to 10K miles before an oil change in my C280. Would I? No. I do think 5K is about right between oil changes w/ synthetic vs. 3K with dino.

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I would say 5-6k miles with synthetic is about right, I think its viscosity would hold up for longer than that, but there are other factors to consider as to when to change your oil - like contaminants and the oil filter probably needs to be changed by then anyway.

I think synthetic is definitely the way to go, the engine runs smoother, revs faster, and gets better gas mileage - how can you go wrong?

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I would however say that you could probably go longer between oil changes with synthetic. Again, according to MB, I could potentially drive up to 10K miles before an oil change in my C280.

Unlike Mercedes, Lexus engineers recommend a dino oil -genuine Toyota Motor Oil http://www.saber.net/~monarch/lexoil1.jpg because it's specially formulated for Toyota / Lexus

engines.

Also unlike Mercedes, Lexus engineers advise against extending oil change intervals when using synthetic oil and to not ever switch back to dino oil once you start using synthetic oil.

Here is what Lexus says in the FAQ on the Lexus website:

http://www.lexus.com/home/contact_lexus.html#5

5. Can I use synthetic engine oil in my Lexus vehicle during its break-in period?

"Synthetic oil can be used at the first scheduled oil change. Please note that the

use of synthetic oil does not extend the recommended oil change intervals.

If synthetic oil is used after that time, it should be the same weight specification

and meet or exceed the API (American Petroleum Institute) grade specifications.

Even if synthetic oil is used, we do not recommend longer oil change intervals.

Once synthetic oil is used, it is best not to switch back to petroleum-based oil."

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I do use synthetic oil, because its not much more expensive (couple bucks a quart) and because I hope to drive the Lexus 200,000 miles and it adds to my peace of mind.

BUT I do agree with Monarch for the most part. I hear this a lot "Its a Lexus, use the most expensive gas even if it doesn't need it, use synthetic oil, ALWAYS use the dealer even though its 3 times as expensive, ALWAYS use the strict maintenance schedule" its that type of thinking that makes the dealership a FORTUNE. Thats a fortune YOU don't have to spend, and that Lexus TELLS you you dont have to spend right in the owners manual. That "its a LEXUS!" mentality is completely created by the dealership. They even charge as much as they do because in all honesty, Lexus owners WANT to pay that much.

My Lexus dealer charges $20 a quart for synthetic oil that would cost $5.50 at TrakAuto. For that much, its gotta do GREAT things for the car right?

You laugh, but people think that way. I'm guilty of buying into it just as much as the next guy...

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"lexusfreak, the synthetic oil makers have had 25 years to provide real world proof to the public that synthetic oil dramatically extends engine life. They have failed to do so. And Nissan, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Mazda - none of them recommend synthetic motor oils. And most long haul trucking companies still use dino oils because there are no dramatic benefits to using synthetic.

With regard to transmission oil changes, once again Nissan, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Mazda engineers say just draining and refilling the oil pan is sufficient to deliver hundreds of thousands of miles of trouble free life. The commercial interests that promote total transmission fluid changes have had 15 years to provide real world proof to the public that total fluid exchanges dramatically extend transmission life. They have failed to do so.

With regard to coolant changes, just draining and refilling the radiator with Toyota coolant and distilled water is an effective way of keeping the cooling system spotlessly clean inside because the system is never exposed to tap water. Flushing with tap water, on the other hand, results in some tap water being trapped in the system which later produces a bit of minteral build up in the system.

So a system that is regularly flushed with tap water will not stay as clean as one that just has the radiator periodically drained and refilled with the factory original coolant mixture."

A couple of points to make here but just want to say that I'm not intrested in getting into a p :censored: ing contest with anybody, just intrested in expressing my opinions & views on these matters... B)

first off, thanks bran for your comments, you, me & others agree that synthetic is a superior way to go. Why do some of the worlds biggest & best automakers factory fill there higher end & high performance vehicles with (as an example) Mobil 1 synthetic? MB, Corvette, Porche & Austin Martin are just a few that come to mind.

The engineer's say you can get hundreds of thousands of miles on dino oil for sure, but do they deny that you could get double that if you used synthetic? The dino oil breaks down over the 3 - 6 month period (or 3000 - 5000 mile interval). The ingredents in dino oil weakens over time, the synthetic does not & that's been proven. Point being the synthetic provides much better protection for an engine during it's lifetime, not to mention it flows a lot better in extreme cold at start up which is where most engine damage occurs anyways (once again proven). If you compare an engine that consumes a fair amount of oil in between oil changes, synthetic or dino, you will have to add less synthetic than you would dino almost everytime.....point being, it resists breakdown much more than dino because of the synthetic base stocks and other factors. See my point? you mention there is no proof in 25 years to back up the synthetic claim, perhaps it would be smart to ask the respected automakers as to why they factory filled the above mentioned with synthetic now & see what is said (why would M-B & the others do it if there's no proof that synthetic oil is better?). If synthetic is good enough for vehicles approching neat a quarter million dollars.....I'm willing to spend a few buck's more & put synthetic in my Lexus B)

As for the other fluids talked about, don't get me wrong monarch, I don't totally disagree with you, as it's wise to change the fluids anyways regardless. I'm only saying I sleep better at night knowing that I have 100% "new" Type IV tranny fluid, new pan gasket & clean filter screen & mostly new Toyota long life engine coolant (let's say 95% with the distilled water). As I know for sure that my car will NOT run any worse than those that did only a "partial change" fair enough? & I feel more comfortable for the longevity that clean fluid is mixing with clean fluid & I'll bet I (or others like me) get more miles in the long run without any serious breakdown (or no breakdowns at all) than those that only do the basic minimum fluid changes. But what's my opinion against millions?:whistles: One can say my methods are a bit obsessive (they might be right), but I've never had a fluid related failure of any kind in any of my vehicles for almost 12 years of driving, so I must be doing something right. :) It also helps when using a reliable mechanic that specializes in high end European & Japanese cars that charges half of what the Lexus dealers do for labour & he has all the latest tools & equipment including the tranny flushing machine (which a couple Lexus dealers do & don't have in the Toronto area).

:cheers:

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Well said on all counts I think.

It comes down to this, certainly no harm is being done to the vehicle by using synthetic oil and regularly changing fluids, so if it makes the owner feel better, then its money well spent even if it does nothing to the car.

The synthetic oil debate is as old as internet forums themselves (and older). EVERY car forum has a synthetic oil debate, and most are hundreds or even thousands of posts long...

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Questions:

1 I am interested to know what kind of maintenance/services you do it by yourself vs. done at a dealership/mechanics?

2 What's the best way to learn how to do those services by myself ? Read a general car maintenance book? Service manual for my car (maybe an overkill for me)? Good how-to guide on the web? It may sound like a dumb question to you but you're talking about someone who doesn't even open the hood to check the fluid level!

I would like to add to branshew's comment, only from the feminant (yea I'm a chick) point of view...Knowing the look and smell of fluids is absolutly valid. Personnally I have done alot of mechanical work in the past : Three engine rebuilds (2-VWs, Toyota Corrolla), Timing belts, alternaters, starters, water pumps, radiator, gas tank cleaning and replacement, rack n pinion installation....etc....I have found a few things to be the most helpful...

Mechanics that get paid to do it.

I am all for project cars and learning and if that is truely what you would like to do here is what you need...

1.) Chilton's on the Lex.

2.) One set of Craftsman tools (Metric and English units), ONE C-Clamp (brakes), Hydrolic jack, Jack stands, wheel ramps...mechanics creeper is nice

3.) Time: don't try to do it all at once...

-start with changing the oil, find the pep-!Removed!

-Air filters, knowing what they look like bad is great

-do the little things...that is what to start with....

4.) have a friend who does know what is going on incase you get in trouble...some mechanics are cool and will help you

5.) Listen to your engine.

-it sounds funny but you can isolate and identify the true fault in an engine more by sound and feel than you would think....Smells too, but there is already a thread about the smelly front right of the engine...

6.) oh and one set of Work Clothes

In regards to my 97 ES 300

Personally I have 0 time, so all I will do is brakes, oil changes, A/C Drain fix....that is about it. then again that is all I have had to do (Under warrenty)

I hope it helps...even if it is not about Synthetic v. regular ( I Vote synthetic...Peace of mind)

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I Vote synthetic...Peace of mind)

I suspect one reason Toyota / Lexus recommend dino oil - especially the specially forumuted genuine Toyota dino oil - is because it has a long established track record of enabling Toyota engines to last 500,000 miles or more.

And one oil company - Quaker State - is so confident in the ability of dino oil to stop major wear that it offers a 250,000 mile engine wear out guarantee if the car owner uses Quaker State dino oil and changes it every 4,000 miles: http://www.pennzoil-quakerstate.com/products/qs.htm

That's some pretty good peace of mind

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