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Repair Estimate, Does This Sound Right? Need Your Opinion Please


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I took my 2005 SC430 with 47000 miles in for the airbag recall. Now the dealer called me with the following repairs the car needs.

1. New engine mounts. $ 895.00

2. Differential Service. $ 100.00

3. Needs new front rims. $ 2,100.00. They claim the front rims are wobbling and the 70% tire is worn to the webbing on the inside. They sent a photo and it is true. They also claim that these are steel rims and can't be fixed. Lexus USA told me that the rims are aluminum alloy.??? (My Lexus dealer told me that aluminum rims can be fixed) I also wonder how these rims could be damaged.

4.Replacing timing & drive belt. $ 500.00 (Have only 47000 miles but 10 years old)

5. New run flat tires.$ 3019.00 (I would only buy regular tire for about $1000.00. Don't like runflat tires)

Total including a few minor other things. $7,331.00

I am pretty depressed about this and wonder if the Service Advisor works on commission.

We are planning to sell the car anyway.

Any recommendations?

Should I get the timing belt job done? ($ 500.00 is actually a low price, don't know why)

Differential?

etc?

Thanks, Gerhard

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The main job of Lexus dealer service writers is to sell, sell, sell services and that is how they keep their jobs. I've had Lexus dealer service writers tell me many times that repairs were needed when they were not. I avoided Lexus dealer repair shops as much as possible during my 24 years of Lexus ownership and found much lower prices and better service at independent repair shops that specialized in servicing Lexus.

The prices you quoted seem odd. Replacing a timing belt usually costs substantially more than $500 if the water pump, idlers and tensioner are also replaced which is what is usually considered to be the normal procedure. Are you having a lot of vibration that indicates that you need new engine mounts? Do you live in an especially hot climate? (Engine and transmission mounts seem to deteriorate faster in hot climates.)

Did you see my response to your previous thread about your wheels? Yes, your wheels can be repaired but it is cheaper to buy those $140 refurbished wheels.

Yes, you can use regular tires. There are threads on this and other Lexus forums discussing which temporary use spare tires/wheels fit in an SC430 trunk.

A differential service is probably not really needed but I always had it done on my LS cars every 30,000 miles or two years .... but I towed a small trailer. What does your maintenance manual say?

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This is very curious. Aside from the obvious mechanical issues and questions is a more fundamental question about the honesty of the dealer personnel. Over the years that I owned Saabs and Hondas, I maintained both cars -- by the book -- at the dealerships. The service writers, particularly those at the Saab dealer, were generally technically competent, forthright, and honest in their assessments and recommendations.

Since acquiring our Lexus cars, I've found the dealership to set a high professional standard. I believe the service writers seek to do a good job, but frequently appear to have far less technical understanding than many of their customers. That may raise a question of competency, but I've seen no evidence that they are trained to sell services as described in one of the posts above.

Because my cars are relatively new ('09 and '13, with the '13 being a lease) I think I am well served in relying on the dealer -- especially if I intend to trade. Service quality is generally consistent if not quite as stellar as the Lexus folks would like to believe, and cost is not out of line with some independent shops. However, I take my BMW Z4 to a local shop run by a guy who is extremely technically accomplished, absolutely honest, and who charges very fair rates. He absolutely outshines the BMW dealer. I am borderline on moving the '09 RX350 service to him, and if there is a moment's doubt about the dealer, my local guy would get all my business.

Part of the business model for Lexus, as I understand, is excellence in service. I would think that would include an objective to ensure honest, customer-oriented advice and service. The situation described above seems a guaranteed way to drive buyers to other brands, and must ultimately be self-defeating.

I guess maybe I benefit from being in a medium size town in the Midwest where the ethic is perhaps different.

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This is very curious. Aside from the obvious mechanical issues and questions is a more fundamental question about the honesty of the dealer personnel. Over the years that I owned Saabs and Hondas, I maintained both cars -- by the book -- at the dealerships. The service writers, particularly those at the Saab dealer, were generally technically competent, forthright, and honest in their assessments and recommendations.

Since acquiring our Lexus cars, I've found the dealership to set a high professional standard. I believe the service writers seek to do a good job, but frequently appear to have far less technical understanding than many of their customers. That may raise a question of competency, but I've seen no evidence that they are trained to sell services as described in one of the posts above.

Because my cars are relatively new ('09 and '13, with the '13 being a lease) I think I am well served in relying on the dealer -- especially if I intend to trade. Service quality is generally consistent if not quite as stellar as the Lexus folks would like to believe, and cost is not out of line with some independent shops. However, I take my BMW Z4 to a local shop run by a guy who is extremely technically accomplished, absolutely honest, and who charges very fair rates. He absolutely outshines the BMW dealer. I am borderline on moving the '09 RX350 service to him, and if there is a moment's doubt about the dealer, my local guy would get all my business.

Part of the business model for Lexus, as I understand, is excellence in service. I would think that would include an objective to ensure honest, customer-oriented advice and service. The situation described above seems a guaranteed way to drive buyers to other brands, and must ultimately be self-defeating.

I guess maybe I benefit from being in a medium size town in the Midwest where the ethic is perhaps different.

You have been fortunate. From our experience, dishonesty regarding repairs at car dealerships usually starts when the warranty expires.

In the early 1990's I had a Lexus dealer service writer tell me that my just-out-of-warranty 1990 LS400 required a new $1,000+ ECU to get it running. Oddly, the need for that ECU vanished when I asked if I could use their phone to call a flatbed to have my car transported a couple hundred yards to an independent repair shop that specialized in repairing Lexus vehicles. The Lexus dealer service writer then told me that they would take another look at the problem and ended up charging me a nominal amount for replacing a battery cable or clamp. There was not even an apology.

Just last summer (2013), a Lexus dealer service writer told me that my 2000 LS400 needed a brake job only a few miles after one had been done by an independent Lexus repair shop. A few years before that, another Lexus dealer service writer told me that I was endangering my family by not letting them do a brake job - when I had just measured the pads myself and verified that they were well within specification. Premature brake jobs seem to be the local Lexus dealer's favorite scam ... gotta cover the cost of those loaner cars! I have a hard time sitting in the Lexus dealer waiting room listening to the yarns service writers spin to sell services to other customers - especially to female customers. I know too much about automobile mechanicals - ignorance is bliss.

The main reason I ended my 24 year run with Lexus vehicles this year was that I am fed up with integrity level of the local Lexus dealer monopoly. At least by driving only Toyota brand vehicles now (both currently within warranty), we have a choice of seven Toyota dealers in town and lots of independent shops to repair them.

The problem is not just reserved for Lexus dealers. I had a Mercedes dealer tell me that the rear suspension of an out-of-warranty car needed a multi-

thousand dollar rebuild. That problem also vanished when I told the dealer that I was going to take the car someplace else for a second opinion.

As much as my wife and I like milking all the value out of vehicles by keeping them for 10 to 15 years, sometimes I just want to drive only vehicles that are within their warranty periods to avoid the nonsense that happens after the warranties expire.

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Well said, however when I hear the service writers giving the line to others, I feel it is my obligation to inform the customer otherwise. That is why I am on these sites to help others and gain knowledge.

It should not stop at these sites, but help our fellow Americans when possible to not be ripped off.

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