shuo

6K job on the rusty suspension of my 2002 ES300, is it worth it?

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Today I took my 2002 ES300 to one mechanic shop in San Carlos, CA to do alignment check plus general vehicle inspection to make sure it is ready for a ~2000 mile road trip. The alignment was recommended by Costco tire department since they noticed uneven wear on my old tires when they installed new tires on my car. I was surprised that the guys recommended a long list of ~6K (7K with brake system) job to replace all the struts/shocks, suspension bushings, front axles, sway bar links, stabilizer bar control links, the whole rear brake system and even the exhaust system because all of them are 'very rusty'. They told me that before they replace the suspension system they cannot do alignment for the car. I understand that my car has been driving in Chicago and Boston for about 90K miles and winter is harsh there for cars. I also expected the rear brake system to be on the list since the two mechanics in Boston mentioned the same thing to me and I've already replaced the whole front brake system before I drove from Boston to SF. But neither Boston mechanics recommended replacing the whole suspension system. In addition, if my car (96K miles) is that bad, how many cars that have higher mileage and are driving in northern cities will have to replace their suspension? I wonder if anyone has similar experience, and if yes, what have you done to address the issue. To save money I think I can buy OEM/aftermarket parts online, while I don't know if they will be willing to use the parts I provide. I would appreciate it very much for any inputs you may have. I can provide pictures of the diagnosis as well as quotes for more detailed discussion. Thanks again.

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Does the car drive OK?  If it does, you don't necessarily need suspension work or an alignment.

One does not replace suspension and exhaust parts simply because of surface rust.  It sounds like your mechanic shop is taking you for a ride.  I suppose you could take your car to another shop to have its alignment checked.

It is certainly not practical to spend $6K or $7K on a car that's not worth nearly that much.

I suggest that you do only basic maintenance (e.g. engine oil change if necessary) and go on your trip.  

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Thanks a lot Jim.  The car drives very smoothly and I do not hear any abnormal noise nor do I feel anything unusual.  To make sure everything is right I just called my Boston mechanic this morning.  They reassured me that the suspension on car at 96k should be ok even if it's from New England area as long as it does not make funny noise or give a rough ride.  I think I will follow your advice and just do basic maintenance for my car at the moment.  Thanks a lot for your help!

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