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Well, I Got It Into The Shop...

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So I brought my 97 ES300 (about 92,000 miles) into the shop today for the 90,000 mile maintenance, which was around $525 at the local Toyota dealer. :unsure: Then, they also said that my valve cover gaskets need to be repaired because they were leaking. So there was another $253. I also had the outside tie rods adjusted for $48 and something with the throttle cleaned for $39.95. I am now waiting for them to finish up on the car, but I was not too happy when I heard the bill was going to be around $900! :blink:

So, today was not a great day. At least I am getting the stuff fixed, although there are no signs of problems with the car. It's been running great for the last 9 months that I've owned it.

Also, they recommended that I fix the power steering pump ($470 for a new one, $260 for a rebuilt), the water pump ($175), and struts tops (which I will repair all at once this summer when I get new struts as well). They wanted about $675 for the struts/strut mounts.

Do all of these prices sound fair to you? Have I been ripped off? I checked with out local mechanic before bringing my car into Toyota and he was very comparably priced.

Another thing... when I DO get the struts replaced, what should I have done? All four struts and strut mounts, or only the front ones? I don't think that back ones are making much noise.

I guess this is the price I pay to drive a nice car! :D

Thanks for the help!

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I'm not sure what was included in the 90K service, but $525 sounds about right for that part of the deal.

As to the rest of it......

Were your valve cover gaskets really leaking? Did you see it? Did they show them to you? What exactly is a tie rod "adjustment"? I'm sure you probably didn't need a throttle cleaning (although you may want to go back and throttle the person who talked you into all of the extras). I have 145K on my '95 w/ the original water pump and power steering pump, and I have never had the throttle cleaned.

I have several problems with the Stealership on this one:

1) They probably sold you some things you didn't really need to have done, and they tried to talk you into some aditional things that didn't need to be done as well. The water pump should be good for at least 120K. It could be replaced when you do your timing belt, but not as a solo item unless it failed. Has your power steering failed? If not, then you don't need a new PS pump.

2) The thing that I hate most about the stealership is that they have a "book price" for everything. Regardless of how long the job takes, they always charge a flat fee. Usually the labor hours are less than what they have built into the price and they always come out on top. All of the items that you had done should have been combined into a total labor charge and not a per item charge. The last time I went to the stealership they tried to bill me for 8 hours of labor, but they called me 5 hours after I had dropped off the car to tell me it was ready. (Where did the other 5 hours come from? I know that there could not have been two technicians working on the car since only one person can fit under the hood at a time.)

On the negative side, I think you got talked into some things you may not have needed. Always question their add ons and ask to see the "broken" or "leaking" parts. You also got nickled and dimed on the prices.

On the positive side, you know that the gaskets, throttle and other serviced items are good to go for some time now and you won't have to worry about them. Overall, don't feel bad or angry, but be more vigilant next time.

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Thanks for the comments, branshew. Just to clarify, the only things that I fixed were the valve cover gaskets, the tie rod adjustment, and the throttle cleaning.

For the valve cover gaskets, they said they were leaking, not seaping, so I felt like that was something that needed attention. I have noticed something on the garage floor... maybe that's what it was.

As for the tie rod adjustment, I requested that because the steering wheel is slightly tilted to the left. I got the suggestion on this site for the tie rod adjustment and the guy at the dealership said it would fix the straightness of the wheel itself, but does not correct alignment (which is okay). If I put the wheel straight (so the middle is completely horizontal) then it will veer right. Otherwise, if I let go of the wheel, it is just fine. So, that is why the people here recommended that the tie rods get adjusted.

The throttle cleaning was also recommended by them because they said there was some gunk on it, and it could cause the throttle to stick, and $40 to me is not worth risking that. Even if it usually does not need it.

I think that the prices I paid were pretty fair. Before telling them to go ahead with the stuff, I checked with two local mechanics and they were right around the same price (and the locals were a tad higher for a couple of things).

I did not replace the power steering pump, the water pump, get an alignment, or fix the struts.

Also, I would have loved to have gone in before to see what they were talking about, but I did not have that option. I did not have transportation over there the entire day (unfortunately) and it is about a half hour drive from my home. It is not really local, but it is in the Twin Cities area. So, it would have been costly and difficult for me to literally go there, even though I usually like to see what they are talking about so I know they aren't lying.

Because of the long list of repairs, I became irritated on the phone with them. So, I asked about the severity of each item, and I only fixed the things that were important.

I am a little mad at them for trying to sneak the other stuff by me (I could have EASILY spent $1700 today fixing every little thing). When I asked about the other stuff, he's like "well, it's not that bad... it's just seeping".... well then WHY did you tell me it needs to be replaced???

So, I totally understand what you were saying about "stealerships" because I do think that they take the common person for an idiot. The only reason I went to this place is because several friends go there and recommended it. But I do not think I will go there too often because of the long distance.

Anyway, I just wanted to clarify that I did not get all of that stuff fixed. I never let the dealership or local mechanic just tell me what "needs" to be fixed because they generally want to rip me off, especially since I am 19 and they think I am an idiot more than likely.

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You should have gotten an alignment not some adjusting ,I get them for $40 for a 4 wheel alignment Canadian.

I disagree with the dealership coming out on top because it takes less time. It is because the trained technition does the same job on the same cars all day long and gets better at it . I would rather let someone who is excellent take my car apart than someone who is average gettign the job done in average time who is not too sure whith what they are doing.

The purpose of a flat book rate is just that so consumers don;t get scammed and it is a flat rate across the board per job. The difference is shop rate per hour.

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Well, I think they may have already done the tie rod adjustment, but I called and told them to do an alignment if they had not already done the tie rods. I was told by the tech that a tie rod adjustment would straighten the wheel, and that an alignment would only straighten the tires. He said that it would not necessarily mean that the wheel itself would be straight, which is why I got the tie rods adjusted. Well, that's a little annoying... I guess he does not know what he's talking about.

Thanks for the suggestions.

And does anyone know which struts I should have replaced? Only the front struts/mounts, or all four?

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Adjusting the tie rods is probably the way to straighten the steering wheel. However, if you have it aligned, straigntening the steering wheel should be included in that. It's a good idea to have the alignment done anyway, so getting those two things done in the same job is a good thing.

As far as struts, if one has failed, is leaking, etc, then you have to replace them in pairs, front or rear. The fronts are most likely to fail first. I'd give all four corners of the car the "bounce test" and if the rears pass the test, then leave them on till they go bad.

Here's a good little article on checking your struts (shocks).

Whenever you inspect the suspension system, you should test the shock absorbers.  The test should be performed with the car on the ground, not when the car is being supported on a jack or hoist.

The way to test the front and rear shocks is by bouncing each corner of the car.  Rock the car at each corner and release.  If the car bounces more than 1 1/2 times after you have stopped, take a closer look at the shocks.

If the car bounces more than it should, raise the car up on a jack.  Run your hand over the tire tread completely around the tire and from inside to outside.  Cupping or unusual wear in any area indicates the shocks may not be holding the tires on the road.  Look for broken mounts, damaged bushings, and oil on the shock absorber barrel.

Grab the shock and shake firmly.  This may reveal damage to a mount or bushing not apparent at first sight.  Substantial fluid on the outside of the shock absorber housing indicates a leaking seal.  Fluid cannot be replaced and shocks are ineffective without fluid; shock absorber replacement is required.  Shocks should always be installed in pairs, and it is often most economical to replace all four. 

One indicator of a need to replace the shock is oil leakage at the piston rod seal.  Also conduct a bounce test.  During the bounce test, carefully observe the top strut mount.  Any noise or movement here can indicate the need for parts replacement.

So here are the warning signs that you may need to replace your Imperial's shock absorbers:

Leaking oil

Broken/corroded mountings

Failure of mounting bushes

Damaged body

Corroded/ damaged piston rod

Abnormal tire wear

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