Author Topic: Car Trouble? **UPDATE: Mechanic's Verdict**  (Read 17869 times)

Rebecca Stapler

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Car Trouble? **UPDATE: Mechanic's Verdict**
« on: December 06, 2013, 02:44:32 PM »
My husband just reported that our 99 Corolla was giving him trouble today and he wonders if it's the transmission and, if so, should we take it to a mechanic sooner rather than later?

Here's what he says: When he puts his foot on the gas from a standstill, the car revs without moving until the RPMs get to 3,000 or so. Then it kicks into gear and starts moving.

What do mustacians say? Get it checked now? Let it ride? If it's a transmission problem, is there any sense in getting it fixed before it's a big problem? (like getting your brake pads replaced before they wear out the rotors) Or is it going to cost the same to fix regardless of how long we wait?

**UPDATE** Drove it to the mechanic this morning and he told us that a hose corroded and ruptured, so they'll have to replace that, along with some clamps. He recommended a transmission flush due to rust in the fluid, probably due to the hose corroding. That's fine. I can see that being justified. There was some soot on the dipstick when I checked the fluid. So now we're up to $500.

Then he says that there is a steering wheel pin that is about to fall out (I forget the term for the pin that he used), which will require an alignment after they fix it. 

And we're due for an oil change and air filter change ($45).

Am I happy that they're so thorough? Yes. But I am a little skeptical when they pile on the issues and quote me $1100 for all the work. After I agreed to it all, I realized that this is a $2,000 car and I'm wondering at what point we should stop fixing it or look at a newer new-to-us car.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2013, 02:57:44 PM by Rebecca Stapler »

irrational

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Re: Car Trouble?
« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2013, 04:01:49 PM »
How many miles are on the Corolla? Since it's a '99, I'd imagine close to 200K or more.

I'm not all that familiar with automatics, but looking at eBay I see transmissions ranging from $250-$500.. So, worst case scenario (provided you can do the work yourself) is surprising cheap.

You might have luck changing the transmission fluid, but if it's as bad as you made it sounds this might be too little too late.

I'd wait until someone with more knowledge of automatics chimes in (most of my experience is with standards), and see what they recommend.

Boz86

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Re: Car Trouble?
« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2013, 05:27:38 PM »
I'll ask the obvious question: has someone checked the transmission fluid levels?

I only ask because you didn't mention it, don't mean to offend.

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Re: Car Trouble?
« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2013, 05:42:51 PM »
As far as the car issue, I would say check fluid. 

What I'm really commenting for is that, when you own older cars and have a DIY bent, spend $20 on a Chilton's manual for your make/model.  Excellent investment that includes troubleshooting charts but also will tell you how to fix it with photographs.

jba302

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Re: Car Trouble?
« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2013, 05:48:18 PM »
I'd check seals, rings, and sensors. If it does this only on start up and after the car warms up you are fine, then I would go after the seals and rings first given the age of the car.


Rebecca Stapler

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Re: Car Trouble?
« Reply #5 on: December 07, 2013, 04:39:32 AM »
Thanks! I'm only just now learning to DIY a few car-related things. I haven't even done my own oil change yet, so I'm not sure how great I'll be with checking sensors, etc. But I definitely can check the transmission fluid. It's my spouse's primary car, and he tends to not pay much attention to when it needs an oil change, etc., so I hope the shit isn't hitting the fan at this point.

It has about 150k miles on it at this point (I think). We don't take it very far very often (we really should be using a bike for the 2 miles it commutes for us!)

Self-employed-swami

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Re: Car Trouble?
« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2013, 04:48:27 AM »
My automatic 1996 tercel did that exact thing, and it just needed a top up of transmission fluid. Hopefully that's the same for you.

Rebecca Stapler

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Re: Car Trouble?
« Reply #7 on: December 07, 2013, 06:46:38 AM »
My automatic 1996 tercel did that exact thing, and it just needed a top up of transmission fluid. Hopefully that's the same for you.

Fabulous!

PeachFuzzInVA

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Re: Car Trouble?
« Reply #8 on: December 07, 2013, 07:25:26 AM »
If it just started you may have time to save the transmission, but absolutely under no circumstances drive it until you have checked the transmission fluid. If it's low be sure to top it off but make sure you don't overfill the transmission. Also, check for leaks. Transmission fluid doesn't just disappear. If the fluid level is ok and it's still slipping, you're looking at a transmission replacement. In that case, I'd suggest looking for something with a lifetime warranty if you plan on keeping the vehicle. The rest of that car will last forever if you maintain it properly.

Greg

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Re: Car Trouble?
« Reply #9 on: December 07, 2013, 11:14:14 AM »
I "fixed" a friend's car that was doing this years ago by adding fluid to the recommended levels.  It was so low, it didn't show on the dipstick.

Be sure to check the level according to the directions.  Some cars need to be running in neutral to do it, others not.  Be sure to use the correct fluid as well, using the wrong type of ATF can cause damage.

As stated, if the fluid is low, there's a leak.  Usually a drain plug or pan gasket seeping.  Either make it a habit to check, or better yet fix the leak.

Self-employed-swami

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Re: Car Trouble?
« Reply #10 on: December 07, 2013, 01:08:32 PM »
I ran with the assumption that my tercel must have had a leak somewhere, so I just carried a quart of tranny fluid with my quart of oil, in the trunk. Turns out though, in the 4 months I owned that car after I had to put a quart in, the level never dropped off noticeably.

So, sometimes with older cars, the cheapest way to treat slow leaks/burning a little oil, is to just be aware of it, and keep topping up regularly. Looking for a slow transmission leak, without other reasons to change all the seals, might be a fools errand, particularly if you can't do it yourself.


Rebecca Stapler

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Re: Car Trouble?
« Reply #11 on: December 08, 2013, 12:13:51 PM »
Thanks for all of your help. My husband tried to drive the car yesterday and it wouldn't get into gear. I checked and added transmission fluid, while the car was running, and was able to get it into reverse and into a better location in the driveway. Then I looked at where it was sitting and a lot of the transmission fluid that I'd added had dripped out of a hose or something.

The good news: Now we can drive ourselves to the mechanic, instead of needing it towed :/

Even though there wasn't a quick fix to the problem, I'm really glad I asked here and tried to resolve it myself first.

Self-employed-swami

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Re: Car Trouble?
« Reply #12 on: December 08, 2013, 02:25:32 PM »
Hey, hoses are usually relatively cheap to replace, compared to other parts. Despite the irritation, I'd count this as a win, hopefully. If you can reach the leaking hose, your mechanic can hopefully replace it without too much trouble!

Greg

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Re: Car Trouble?
« Reply #13 on: December 08, 2013, 03:19:53 PM »
Sounds like a hose or hard line to a transmission cooler might be bad or loose.  Some cars have a pipe inside the radiator, or in front of the radiator, that ATF runs through to keep it cool.  Hope it's a cheap fix.

Rebecca Stapler

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Re: Car Trouble?
« Reply #14 on: December 08, 2013, 06:31:00 PM »
I am really hoping it's a hose. After I poured in some fluid, I saw a wet hose and wondered if I'd spilled some fluid there but I was pretty sure I hadn't; I thought maybe the funnel dripped on it when I took out or something. Then, when the fluid made a huge puddle under the car I realized that I had a leak. I'm really hoping it's just that hose that was making the mess.

Rebecca Stapler

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Re: Car Trouble? **UPDATE: Mechanic's Verdict**
« Reply #15 on: December 09, 2013, 02:58:07 PM »
Updated with the mechanic's verdict. :(

BlueMR2

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Re: Car Trouble? **UPDATE: Mechanic's Verdict**
« Reply #16 on: December 09, 2013, 03:08:07 PM »
Seems like a reasonable list of things to find wrong with an older car.  I'd just get it fixed.  If you buy a newer used car, not only do you have to pay more up front again, but that car's probably got some issues too, but you won't know about them all.  Some can show up in a pre-buy, but some only show up over time...

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Re: Car Trouble? **UPDATE: Mechanic's Verdict**
« Reply #17 on: December 09, 2013, 04:50:42 PM »
Not sure how it jumped from $500 to $1k? An alignment shouldn't be more than $100. Oil filter etc is standard - any car needs the oil changing! Getting the transmission flushed through to get the rust out, well, it makes sense, right?

If the car is otherwise in good condition it's ok. If it's falling apart, meh. But then, do you want to spend 3-5k on a newer vehicle now..? Corollas are pretty solid.

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Re: Car Trouble? **UPDATE: Mechanic's Verdict**
« Reply #18 on: December 09, 2013, 08:21:15 PM »
Change your own air filter.  Easy peasy.

Paul der Krake

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Re: Car Trouble? **UPDATE: Mechanic's Verdict**
« Reply #19 on: December 09, 2013, 08:23:28 PM »
How far deep in the beast's belly is that corrupted hose? If it's just the hose that connects the transmission to the radiator it sounds like something you could easily DIY.

jba302

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Re: Car Trouble? **UPDATE: Mechanic's Verdict**
« Reply #20 on: December 10, 2013, 07:31:26 AM »
Did he say "rack and pinion"? That would cost around $500 for a mechanic to do one, although if he is charging you $500 for a hose and tranny flush then you are going to wind up with a much higher bill than $1100. I would look for another mechanic.

I'd also suggest buying a Chilton's or Haynes book and try this on your own still, depending on what he said on this "pin" thing. It is not a prohibitively difficult process to replace these lines but your first descent into an engine can be super intimidating.

Greg

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Re: Car Trouble? **UPDATE: Mechanic's Verdict**
« Reply #21 on: December 10, 2013, 10:23:35 AM »
The flush is optional, the rust or whatever is already in there and should be filtered by the tranny's filter if it has one,  if it doesn't have one a simple fluid change (or fill in this case) should do it.

The steering pin sounds like a tie rod end.  This links the steering rack to the front wheel.  If it's too loose it can separate and you go into a ditch or worse.  So this is a safety item, and an alignment is usually required after replacement to make sure the front wheels are pointing in the same general direction, to save on tire wear and improve handling.

The rack could be bad, but it's hard to say if it needs replacing.  Unless it has power steering and is leaking.  The oil change is just a maintenance item that could be done anywhere at anytime.

I'd get a second opinion.  I'd also suggest seeing if you can do the line yourself.  It might be easy or hard, but you should try to get an idea of the complexity of the repair to judge whether or not it's worth it to you.

Bottom line is you can ask them to only do the leaking line.  If they insist on doing everything you can go somewhere else. The tie-rod end could be bad though, and if so should be replaced.  A second opinion sounds like a good idea.

thurston howell iv

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Re: Car Trouble? **UPDATE: Mechanic's Verdict**
« Reply #22 on: December 10, 2013, 10:48:08 AM »
I would avoid a "flush" on the transmission. This is usually a procedure where they attach a machine to the trans and use pressure to remove old fluid and put in new fluid. Problem that many people experience is the pressure sometimes dislodges and then lodges debris into spots where it should not be causing more issues. Additionally, a flush will not require the removal of the transmission pan. If the pan is not removed, the filter cannot be changed. 

Better way is to drop pan and let old fluid drain. Replace filter and pan and add new fluid. Cheap and easy. Should be less than $100
Front end alignment should run about $60.00 from most "chain" shops

As for the suspension stuff, I would ask the mechanic to put the car on the lift and show you what is wrong and why it's bad. (worn items are obvious to everyone). Also, ask for the correct name of the item. If the parts are expensive, look them up online (autozone, advance, o'reilly's and rockauto)--- You will find that most shops want to tack on a parts mark-up as well... Some I have see do 100% markup or more...   Parts for a 99 Corolla should be dirt cheap.

Good Luck.

willn

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Re: Car Trouble? **UPDATE: Mechanic's Verdict**
« Reply #23 on: December 10, 2013, 12:56:33 PM »

Then he says that there is a steering wheel pin that is about to fall out (I forget the term for the pin that he used), which will require an alignment after they fix it. 


Yeah. Second opinion on that one.  "About to fall out" is textbook upselling in the car repair world.

exranger06

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Re: Car Trouble? **UPDATE: Mechanic's Verdict**
« Reply #24 on: December 10, 2013, 08:30:03 PM »
I would avoid a "flush" on the transmission. This is usually a procedure where they attach a machine to the trans and use pressure to remove old fluid and put in new fluid. Problem that many people experience is the pressure sometimes dislodges and then lodges debris into spots where it should not be causing more issues. Additionally, a flush will not require the removal of the transmission pan. If the pan is not removed, the filter cannot be changed. 

Better way is to drop pan and let old fluid drain. Replace filter and pan and add new fluid. Cheap and easy. Should be less than $100
Front end alignment should run about $60.00 from most "chain" shops
The term "flush" is really a misnomer. I've never seen a flush machine that uses pressure to change fluid. A trans fluid exchange (the more accurate term) hooks up to the transmission lines. The mechanic starts the engine and lets the transmission use its own pump to pump the old fluid out. The only thing the machine does is make sure new fluid gets pumped in at the same rate it's pumped out. This is a totally harmless procedure and will not mess up any transmission.

You're right that it doesn't require dropping the pan and changing the filter, but doing it that way you'll only get about half of the old fluid out. The other half is still in the torque converter. The only way to change out ALL the fluid in the transmission is to do a flush/exchange. Six of one/half dozen of the other. Each method has its pros and cons.

If the fluid hasn't been changed in a long time and is overdue, I would do the flush. That will get all of the worn out fluid out. If you've been changing the fluid regularly, do a pan drop and change the filter.

Rebecca Stapler

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Re: Car Trouble? **UPDATE: Mechanic's Verdict**
« Reply #25 on: December 11, 2013, 08:06:14 AM »
Thank you everyone for your input. I really appreciate it! I thought that the mechanic's diagnosis was the end of the story but maybe I should get another opinion? Here's the rest of the story, from all of your questions.


The steering pin sounds like a tie rod end.  This links the steering rack to the front wheel.  If it's too loose it can separate and you go into a ditch or worse.  So this is a safety item, and an alignment is usually required after replacement to make sure the front wheels are pointing in the same general direction, to save on tire wear and improve handling.


Yes -- that's it: The tie rod end. He said it was very loose and if it came out, we would lose our steering.

As for the hose itself: I think I know which one it is, because I was looking at it when the fluid was coming out. It's not a safety-related issue (like the tie rod end), so it's the kind of thing I could try to DIY myself. But the transmission flush ... the mechanic said that they use some sort of equipment to measure when the fluid flushed through the system was clean. He knows I'm ready to give it a whirl myself, because I told him that I was adding the fluid, etc., so he made sure to tell me that the flush involves more than a visual inspection of the fluid.

And then when he got to the oil change and air filter, I just gave up! I think Jiffy Lube would charge just as much to do it and I haven't gotten around to getting all the equipment I need for a oil change (the car ramp is the big expense I haven't forked over the $$ for yet).

Here is the breakdown of expenses (from my memory -- I was a dolt and didn't write it down):

$500 transmission inspection, diagnosis, hose and clamps, and flush ($90-$110, depending on how much fluid the flush takes)
$?? tie rod replacement
$95 alignment (required after the tie rod replacement)
$45 oil and air filter change
$?? "Battery service" -- wiping up the corrosion, cleaning off and lubing the connections. The battery is pretty fuzzy, and he said that it will help it start in the winter if the connections were clean. We live in the Northeast, so we expect cold starts.
TOTAL: $1000-$1100

That does really add up. Looks like the tie rod is a $400 job? I don't remember how much he quoted me for the battery service.

I'm going to check in with them and see how it's going -- he said that he would call around to get a good price on the parts. I would like to believe him, but who knows?
« Last Edit: December 11, 2013, 08:11:02 AM by Rebecca Stapler »

Rebecca Stapler

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Re: Car Trouble? **UPDATE: Mechanic's Verdict**
« Reply #26 on: December 11, 2013, 08:08:30 AM »

If the fluid hasn't been changed in a long time and is overdue, I would do the flush. That will get all of the worn out fluid out. If you've been changing the fluid regularly, do a pan drop and change the filter.

The fluid has only been topped off as long as I've had the car (10 years). We have had the oil changed at Jiffy Lube and I know there is one flush I should get sometimes, and the rest of their extra services are BS, so I just half-assed it and said no to all the services. I'm guessing it's the transmission flush that I need occasionally? So, this has been a long time coming and it probably should be flushed after a decade.

jba302

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Re: Car Trouble? **UPDATE: Mechanic's Verdict**
« Reply #27 on: December 11, 2013, 08:16:04 AM »
Replacing an entire tie rod should not take more than an hour depending on where you like (If you live in the south it will be easier due to no salt on the roads). And they cost under $100. So he would be charging you somewhere in the range of $4-500 / hour if he's replacing all the hardware. A good solid 1/2" drive breaker bar, a small sledge and a pickle fork (or puller) sounds like all you need.

thurston howell iv

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Re: Car Trouble? **UPDATE: Mechanic's Verdict**
« Reply #28 on: December 11, 2013, 08:39:19 AM »
Found this for you:

Good info from AutoTechRepair.Suite101 :

Who Recommends Flushing As Maintenance?

The shops that want to sell you the engine or transmission flush charge anywhere from $49.95 to $99.95, not including a new engine or transmission. Those are extra. And they state quite emphatically that it is recommended that it be done. But who actually recommends that it be done? I checked with GM, Ford, Chrysler, Nissan, Honda and several other new car manufacturers and not one recommended an engine or transmission flush as routine maintenance. In fact, they specifically don't recommend it at all!! The new car dealerships that do sell them use the implication that since they are the dealer that it must be the factory that recommends it. And if they do say the factory recommends it, they are flat out lying to you.

The only ones who do recommend flushing as a maintenance procedure are the companies that sell the flush machines and the shops that buy them. The flush machine manufacturers state quite clearly in their operating manuals not to use their machines on "high-mileage vehicles". That simple statement proves that flushing is not a safe procedure. It also absolves them of any responsibility of any damage that may occur due to the use of their equipment. This leaves the shop wholly responsible for anything that happens and the cost of correcting the damage that occurs.

The Dangers Of Flushing...

Flush machines do what they say; they force high pressure cleaning solvents back through the engine and transmission and clean out some of the accumulated junk that has formed. Now engines have small passages and galleries through which oil or automatic transmission fluid flow and there are one-way valves that keep the fluids from backtracking for whatever reason. By using an aggressive cleaning procedure like flushing, large chunks of accumulated sludge are broken off and forced backwards through these galleries and valves and, more often than not, lodge tightly and block them. This cuts off the normal flow of the fluid and causes lack of lubrication in an engine and abnormal or no shifting in a transmission. The results are expensive repairs, or more often, engine or transmission replacement.

thurston howell iv

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Re: Car Trouble? **UPDATE: Mechanic's Verdict**
« Reply #29 on: December 11, 2013, 08:47:26 AM »
BTW, I was looking at the pricing you quoted OP.
$500 to inspect the trans with minor fix?  You can buy a "new/used" lower mileage unit for that price or less.
$45 for an oil and filter change? Really? I use the good synthetic and more of it than you do and it's no where near $45!  You should be closer to $20 or less. (go to wal mart)
Battery Service? (Put some baking soda on the terminals and rinse with water) Free!
Alignment shouldn't be more than around $60-65 bucks
Tie rod end (as low as $4.54)  See here: http://www.rockauto.com/catalog/x,carcode,1432911,parttype,7428





Rebecca Stapler

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Re: Car Trouble? **UPDATE: Mechanic's Verdict**
« Reply #30 on: December 11, 2013, 08:58:06 AM »
Found this for you:

Good info from AutoTechRepair.Suite101 :

Who Recommends Flushing As Maintenance?

The shops that want to sell you the engine or transmission flush charge anywhere from $49.95 to $99.95, not including a new engine or transmission. Those are extra. And they state quite emphatically that it is recommended that it be done. But who actually recommends that it be done? I checked with GM, Ford, Chrysler, Nissan, Honda and several other new car manufacturers and not one recommended an engine or transmission flush as routine maintenance. In fact, they specifically don't recommend it at all!! The new car dealerships that do sell them use the implication that since they are the dealer that it must be the factory that recommends it. And if they do say the factory recommends it, they are flat out lying to you.

The only ones who do recommend flushing as a maintenance procedure are the companies that sell the flush machines and the shops that buy them. The flush machine manufacturers state quite clearly in their operating manuals not to use their machines on "high-mileage vehicles". That simple statement proves that flushing is not a safe procedure. It also absolves them of any responsibility of any damage that may occur due to the use of their equipment. This leaves the shop wholly responsible for anything that happens and the cost of correcting the damage that occurs.

The Dangers Of Flushing...

Flush machines do what they say; they force high pressure cleaning solvents back through the engine and transmission and clean out some of the accumulated junk that has formed. Now engines have small passages and galleries through which oil or automatic transmission fluid flow and there are one-way valves that keep the fluids from backtracking for whatever reason. By using an aggressive cleaning procedure like flushing, large chunks of accumulated sludge are broken off and forced backwards through these galleries and valves and, more often than not, lodge tightly and block them. This cuts off the normal flow of the fluid and causes lack of lubrication in an engine and abnormal or no shifting in a transmission. The results are expensive repairs, or more often, engine or transmission replacement.

Aw shit. Thanks for the kick in the pants on this. I let my fingers do some walking on my keyboard.

Consumer Reports:

Don't get dinged: 5 auto-service rip-offs

1. Flushing the engine or transmission. Those are common ways for dealers to pad their maintenance bills. Several of the dealerships we spoke with wanted us to pay for such a service when none was specified for normal driving in the owner’s manuals. Automakers recommend against flushing the engine.


Rebecca Stapler

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Re: Car Trouble? **UPDATE: Mechanic's Verdict**
« Reply #31 on: December 11, 2013, 09:05:18 AM »
I realize I am posting up a storm on this, but I keep looking into the tranny flush issue and a lot of sources are saying to refer to the owner's manual. Well, I looked in my owner's manual at the very beginning and it said zip about the transmission. I was looking in the manual just so I could decode the mysterious transmission dipstick, which said "cold" "hot" and "dextron III." I wanted to make sure that I was reading it properly. But the manual doesn't say anything about it.

I am a cynical person, so I don't know what to trust at this point. The Chilton and Haynes manuals for a 1999 car are pricey. I know I should have gotten one long ago, but now I'm trying to decide which one to get. I just wish I could read it sooner rather than later, because I don't want the car sitting at the mechanic's, taking up space. I'm not sure they'd like it if it sat there for days and then I told them to not do all of the services they recommended.

thurston howell iv

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Re: Car Trouble? **UPDATE: Mechanic's Verdict**
« Reply #32 on: December 11, 2013, 09:25:14 AM »
Don't waste money on chilton or haynes. garbage.
Buy the factory service manual.  http://www.ebay.com/itm/1999-TOYOTA-COROLLA-SHOP-SERVICE-MANUAL-RX51-/221060753443?pt=Motors_Manuals_Literature&hash=item33783f6823&vxp=mtr

Yes, it's way more expensive but it tells you everything that the dealers get to see, troubleshooting, correct (and not generic) diagrams, part numbers, etc... I buy them for all my cars.

Greg

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Re: Car Trouble? **UPDATE: Mechanic's Verdict**
« Reply #33 on: December 11, 2013, 09:28:09 AM »
Owner's manual reading is good.  Look near the back in the specifications or at-home maintenance area for instructions on fluid checking and adding.

Your dipstick markings are good to have.  One mark is for when you check the fluid cold, the higher one is for when you check the level after the transmission is warmed up from driving.  Dexron III is the type of ATF to use.  You can even use Dexron IV usually, check the bottle to see if it's backward-compatible.  Usually with a auto tranny, the car has to be running in park or neutral, so be careful of moving parts when doing this.

Manuals; I have many and prefer the Haynes manuals.  Check used book stores and even your local library, I've found some at these places.  Avoid the more generic ones that cover many brands, Chiltons are sometimes this way.

Rebecca Stapler

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Re: Car Trouble? **UPDATE: Mechanic's Verdict**
« Reply #34 on: December 11, 2013, 09:36:26 AM »
Owner's manual reading is good.  Look near the back in the specifications or at-home maintenance area for instructions on fluid checking and adding.

Your dipstick markings are good to have.  One mark is for when you check the fluid cold, the higher one is for when you check the level after the transmission is warmed up from driving.  Dexron III is the type of ATF to use.  You can even use Dexron IV usually, check the bottle to see if it's backward-compatible.  Usually with a auto tranny, the car has to be running in park or neutral, so be careful of moving parts when doing this.

Manuals; I have many and prefer the Haynes manuals.  Check used book stores and even your local library, I've found some at these places.  Avoid the more generic ones that cover many brands, Chiltons are sometimes this way.

But that's the thing -- the manual had zero info on these! There were 4 divots in the dipstick, I'm assuming the first two were for low and high markings for cold checking and low and high for hot checking. Now, when the fluid doesn't even come close to the first divot, it's easy to read. But if I'm ever adding fluid, I want to know if I'm right about the divots. SO frustrating!

tonyevans

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Re: Car Trouble? **UPDATE: Mechanic's Verdict**
« Reply #35 on: December 11, 2013, 09:39:12 AM »

$500 transmission inspection, diagnosis, hose and clamps, and flush ($90-$110, depending on how much fluid the flush takes)
$?? tie rod replacement
$95 alignment (required after the tie rod replacement)
$45 oil and air filter change
$?? "Battery service" -- wiping up the corrosion, cleaning off and lubing the connections. The battery is pretty fuzzy, and he said that it will help it start in the winter if the connections were clean. We live in the Northeast, so we expect cold starts.
TOTAL: $1000-$1100


That sounds pretty crazy to me. I'd take it elsewhere if it were me.

Replacin the tie rod should only be about $100. A tie rod end for that car from most major auto parts suppliers (advance, autozone, o'reilly) is going to be somewhere around $20, give or take a few bucks. Add an hour of labor to install it.

Cleaning the battery terminals should be hardly anything. Probably 15minutes of time.

The alignment seems high, but it's not out of range. I pay $50 for them, but that's a frequent customer discount. I've seen them in my area for $65-100.

$45 for oil and air filter is pretty good.

The trans issue is the big grey area because you don't really know what he's fixing. The fluid flush should be around $50 for ATF and an hour of time. So he's getting $375 for the rest.  Again, probably recouping some diagnostic work. I'd probably do the same myself if in his shoes, but not to that degree.

Again, I'd take it somewhere else, but I'm cheap as hell too. I dont' mind paying a fella for his time, but not to the tune of 200 an hour.
« Last Edit: December 11, 2013, 10:02:53 AM by tonyevans »

Paul der Krake

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Re: Car Trouble? **UPDATE: Mechanic's Verdict**
« Reply #36 on: December 11, 2013, 09:44:33 AM »
Don't waste money on chilton or haynes. garbage.
Buy the factory service manual.  http://www.ebay.com/itm/1999-TOYOTA-COROLLA-SHOP-SERVICE-MANUAL-RX51-/221060753443?pt=Motors_Manuals_Literature&hash=item33783f6823&vxp=mtr

Yes, it's way more expensive but it tells you everything that the dealers get to see, troubleshooting, correct (and not generic) diagrams, part numbers, etc... I buy them for all my cars.
I'll second that. I've been using chilton's on mine because I can borrow it for free from the local library and for all my repairs so far have been fairly straightforward and generic- knock on wood. But the diagrams ARE confusing and tend to be source of confusion more than anything else because it makes you doubt everything. You will often find yourself wondering if you're even looking at the correct part.

The one I borrow covers every. single. import. car. for 1993-1997. The book is over 7 lbs and written in the smallest font possible, but even that isn't enough to cover everything for dozens of different machines, each containing 10,000+ parts...

BlueMR2

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Re: Car Trouble? **UPDATE: Mechanic's Verdict**
« Reply #37 on: December 11, 2013, 09:55:22 AM »
I have factory and Chilton's for my car.  Factory manual is great for heavy work, but horribly expensive (was $600 for the set).  Chiltons was dirt cheap ($30) and actually does a much better job of detailing the small more typical jobs.

thurston howell iv

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Re: Car Trouble? **UPDATE: Mechanic's Verdict**
« Reply #38 on: December 11, 2013, 10:10:47 AM »
I realize I am posting up a storm on this, but I keep looking into the tranny flush issue and a lot of sources are saying to refer to the owner's manual. Well, I looked in my owner's manual at the very beginning and it said zip about the transmission. I was looking in the manual just so I could decode the mysterious transmission dipstick, which said "cold" "hot" and "dextron III." I wanted to make sure that I was reading it properly. But the manual doesn't say anything about it.

I am a cynical person, so I don't know what to trust at this point. The Chilton and Haynes manuals for a 1999 car are pricey. I know I should have gotten one long ago, but now I'm trying to decide which one to get. I just wish I could read it sooner rather than later, because I don't want the car sitting at the mechanic's, taking up space. I'm not sure they'd like it if it sat there for days and then I told them to not do all of the services they recommended.

If the car is just sitting there, why not take it home until you've researched all your options. Pay the shop for the estimate if there was a charge and be done with them..  It's YOUR money.

If you're afraid to drive the car d yourself a favor and purchase a AAA plus membership. It is invaluable. They will tow you for free!
Spend some time researching and calling around and save yourself some dough!!

exranger06

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Re: Car Trouble? **UPDATE: Mechanic's Verdict**
« Reply #39 on: December 11, 2013, 01:49:12 PM »
Found this for you:

Good info from AutoTechRepair.Suite101 :

Who Recommends Flushing As Maintenance?

The shops that want to sell you the engine or transmission flush charge anywhere from $49.95 to $99.95, not including a new engine or transmission. Those are extra. And they state quite emphatically that it is recommended that it be done. But who actually recommends that it be done? I checked with GM, Ford, Chrysler, Nissan, Honda and several other new car manufacturers and not one recommended an engine or transmission flush as routine maintenance. In fact, they specifically don't recommend it at all!! The new car dealerships that do sell them use the implication that since they are the dealer that it must be the factory that recommends it. And if they do say the factory recommends it, they are flat out lying to you.

The only ones who do recommend flushing as a maintenance procedure are the companies that sell the flush machines and the shops that buy them. The flush machine manufacturers state quite clearly in their operating manuals not to use their machines on "high-mileage vehicles". That simple statement proves that flushing is not a safe procedure. It also absolves them of any responsibility of any damage that may occur due to the use of their equipment. This leaves the shop wholly responsible for anything that happens and the cost of correcting the damage that occurs.

The Dangers Of Flushing...

Flush machines do what they say; they force high pressure cleaning solvents back through the engine and transmission and clean out some of the accumulated junk that has formed. Now engines have small passages and galleries through which oil or automatic transmission fluid flow and there are one-way valves that keep the fluids from backtracking for whatever reason. By using an aggressive cleaning procedure like flushing, large chunks of accumulated sludge are broken off and forced backwards through these galleries and valves and, more often than not, lodge tightly and block them. This cuts off the normal flow of the fluid and causes lack of lubrication in an engine and abnormal or no shifting in a transmission. The results are expensive repairs, or more often, engine or transmission replacement.
First of all, engine flushing is not the same thing as transmission flushing. Engine flushing = waste of money, not recommended by any automaker. Transmission flushing = good maintenance procedure. Like I said before, a transmission "flush" is just a method of exchanging the fluid. There is NO high pressure involved. I challenge you to find a machine that forces high pressure fluid and link it to me. I hear people talk about these machines all the time, I've searched for them myself, and have never seen one. I can understand an automaker advising against a high pressure flush. What I'm talking about is NOT a high pressure flush, it is a fluid EXCHANGE. Learn the difference. Many automakers DO recommend periodic fluid changes. A fluid exchange is one method of changing the fluid.

jawisco

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Re: Car Trouble? **UPDATE: Mechanic's Verdict**
« Reply #40 on: December 11, 2013, 04:49:56 PM »
I think Chilton or Haynes is good for a beginner - the factory can be a bit much and can cost a lot.  Buy the Chilton or Haynes.

If it was my car, I would politely ask the mechanic to replace or re-attach the hose that is leaking and top off the transmission fluid and then bring the car home.  Tell him you are short on $ and need to evaluate whether to fix or sell the car.

Get it home, get a manual, and get checking things out.  Learn where your tie rod is and how to check it - if there is a major problem, you will be able to notice it.  Find a mechanic you can trust (this is super important).  Good luck!

The_Dude

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Re: Car Trouble? **UPDATE: Mechanic's Verdict**
« Reply #41 on: December 11, 2013, 06:46:16 PM »
Found this for you:

Good info from AutoTechRepair.Suite101 :

Who Recommends Flushing As Maintenance?

The shops that want to sell you the engine or transmission flush charge anywhere from $49.95 to $99.95, not including a new engine or transmission. Those are extra. And they state quite emphatically that it is recommended that it be done. But who actually recommends that it be done? I checked with GM, Ford, Chrysler, Nissan, Honda and several other new car manufacturers and not one recommended an engine or transmission flush as routine maintenance. In fact, they specifically don't recommend it at all!! The new car dealerships that do sell them use the implication that since they are the dealer that it must be the factory that recommends it. And if they do say the factory recommends it, they are flat out lying to you.

The only ones who do recommend flushing as a maintenance procedure are the companies that sell the flush machines and the shops that buy them. The flush machine manufacturers state quite clearly in their operating manuals not to use their machines on "high-mileage vehicles". That simple statement proves that flushing is not a safe procedure. It also absolves them of any responsibility of any damage that may occur due to the use of their equipment. This leaves the shop wholly responsible for anything that happens and the cost of correcting the damage that occurs.

The Dangers Of Flushing...

Flush machines do what they say; they force high pressure cleaning solvents back through the engine and transmission and clean out some of the accumulated junk that has formed. Now engines have small passages and galleries through which oil or automatic transmission fluid flow and there are one-way valves that keep the fluids from backtracking for whatever reason. By using an aggressive cleaning procedure like flushing, large chunks of accumulated sludge are broken off and forced backwards through these galleries and valves and, more often than not, lodge tightly and block them. This cuts off the normal flow of the fluid and causes lack of lubrication in an engine and abnormal or no shifting in a transmission. The results are expensive repairs, or more often, engine or transmission replacement.
First of all, engine flushing is not the same thing as transmission flushing. Engine flushing = waste of money, not recommended by any automaker. Transmission flushing = good maintenance procedure. Like I said before, a transmission "flush" is just a method of exchanging the fluid. There is NO high pressure involved. I challenge you to find a machine that forces high pressure fluid and link it to me. I hear people talk about these machines all the time, I've searched for them myself, and have never seen one. I can understand an automaker advising against a high pressure flush. What I'm talking about is NOT a high pressure flush, it is a fluid EXCHANGE. Learn the difference. Many automakers DO recommend periodic fluid changes. A fluid exchange is one method of changing the fluid.

I'm also dubious of this autorepair101 site.  While I agree that a full transmission flush is rarely ever needed, they are not dangerous for the reasons described above.  If a car owner is have the transmission serviced (usually a filter change) according to the owner's manual then they should never do a transmission flush as it will be a 100% waste of money.  If the transmission fluid has been contaminated there may be a reason for a flush.

The biggest risk for either type of service, flush or filter replacement, is that if an owner has neglected the regularly scheduled maintenance and tries to do this at say 200k miles the brand new clean fluid can be too light of a viscosity for the old worn out transmission to work properly.  I've worked with shops that flushed a transmission, had it not shift and operate properly, drain the transmission and refill it with old transmission fluid and have it work normally again.

Moral of the story is to do your scheduled maintenance per the owners manual!!!

PeachFuzzInVA

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Re: Car Trouble? **UPDATE: Mechanic's Verdict**
« Reply #42 on: December 11, 2013, 07:30:11 PM »
I guess I should step in. There's a lot of good information here and a lot of misinformation here as well. According to Toyota, depending on driving conditions on your corolla, you should be changing your transmission fluid as frequently as every 15,000 miles http://media.fixed-ops.com/Toy_SB_MaintSchedule/96_00Car.pdf. I'm the guy behind the counter at a Toyota dealership that tells you that you need to spend xxx amount of money when you bring your car in for an oil change (yea, I know everyone hates that guy and I hate being that guy sometimes too), if that link doesn't work for you, pm me your email address and I'll send you the file. I think every 15,000 would be overkill myself as  experience has shown me that every 60,000 - 85,000 is more realistic in terms of need. I don't believe in drain and fills (dropping the pan and refilling the fluid) because you're simply mixing old and new fluid and, as one would expect, just end up with dirty fluid all over again; hence it's a huge waste of money. If you're not going to do the complete fluid exchange, don't waste your money on servicing the transmission at all.

As far as no manufacturer's recommending flushes, that is complete crap. Nissan actually specifies the transmission to be flushed at 30,000 mile intervals. Do you really think their fluid is that much lesser of a quality fluid than any other manufacturer? Furthermore, just because you don't see it in your service manual doesn't mean that it doesn't need to be done. For example, your service manual never tells you to replace your brake pads, but obviously they need to be replaced. It never tells you to change your drive belt either, but at some point that has to be replaced as well. All of these things should be INSPECTED at every service interval and replaced as needed.

Price-wise, I'd expect to spend in the neighborhood of $180-$220 on a transmission fluid exchange at a dealership. Possibly $30-50 less at an independent repair facility.

The tie-rod really depends on if it is an inner or outer tie-rod. The outer, I'd expect around $200 + alignment. Book time should be around 1.2 hours, so about $120 labor (could be more or less depending on the area you live in but $100/hr is probably a realistic average). With the inner, I'd expect maybe an additional $70 - $100. As far as the alignment goes, $70 - $100 should be about average. You may find some cheap independents out there a little less, but be weary of the ones who "set the toe and let 'er go."

Your air filter is $21.96 list price through Toyota, so $45 for an air filter and oil change is dirt cheap, even if it's an independent shop. You'd pay $45 for the oil change alone at my shop.

The battery service shouldn't be anymore than about $30, but that's something even a novice could do themselves for $10 or less.

BTW, props to the member who referenced rockauto.com. I use them for nearly every part I get for my car. You won't find a better price and better inventory anywhere on the web.
« Last Edit: December 11, 2013, 07:33:49 PM by Nic »

Self-employed-swami

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Re: Car Trouble? **UPDATE: Mechanic's Verdict**
« Reply #43 on: December 12, 2013, 01:11:43 AM »
I guess I should step in. There's a lot of good information here and a lot of misinformation here as well. According to Toyota, depending on driving conditions on your corolla, you should be changing your transmission fluid as frequently as every 15,000 miles http://media.fixed-ops.com/Toy_SB_MaintSchedule/96_00Car.pdf. I'm the guy behind the counter at a Toyota dealership that tells you that you need to spend xxx amount of money when you bring your car in for an oil change (yea, I know everyone hates that guy and I hate being that guy sometimes too), if that link doesn't work for you, pm me your email address and I'll send you the file. I think every 15,000 would be overkill myself as  experience has shown me that every 60,000 - 85,000 is more realistic in terms of need. I don't believe in drain and fills (dropping the pan and refilling the fluid) because you're simply mixing old and new fluid and, as one would expect, just end up with dirty fluid all over again; hence it's a huge waste of money. If you're not going to do the complete fluid exchange, don't waste your money on servicing the transmission at all.

As far as no manufacturer's recommending flushes, that is complete crap. Nissan actually specifies the transmission to be flushed at 30,000 mile intervals. Do you really think their fluid is that much lesser of a quality fluid than any other manufacturer? Furthermore, just because you don't see it in your service manual doesn't mean that it doesn't need to be done. For example, your service manual never tells you to replace your brake pads, but obviously they need to be replaced. It never tells you to change your drive belt either, but at some point that has to be replaced as well. All of these things should be INSPECTED at every service interval and replaced as needed.

Price-wise, I'd expect to spend in the neighborhood of $180-$220 on a transmission fluid exchange at a dealership. Possibly $30-50 less at an independent repair facility.

The tie-rod really depends on if it is an inner or outer tie-rod. The outer, I'd expect around $200 + alignment. Book time should be around 1.2 hours, so about $120 labor (could be more or less depending on the area you live in but $100/hr is probably a realistic average). With the inner, I'd expect maybe an additional $70 - $100. As far as the alignment goes, $70 - $100 should be about average. You may find some cheap independents out there a little less, but be weary of the ones who "set the toe and let 'er go."

Your air filter is $21.96 list price through Toyota, so $45 for an air filter and oil change is dirt cheap, even if it's an independent shop. You'd pay $45 for the oil change alone at my shop.

The battery service shouldn't be anymore than about $30, but that's something even a novice could do themselves for $10 or less.

BTW, props to the member who referenced rockauto.com. I use them for nearly every part I get for my car. You won't find a better price and better inventory anywhere on the web.


As the daughter of a mechanic, I can vouch for what Nic has said (for whatever that's worth to you).

I pay $4.95 for a Toyota oil filter, and then about $20 for oil for my 2005 Tundra (if they charge me for the oil at all), and that's with the dealership paying no one, and marking nothing up, so $45 for an oil change and a filter is a steal of a deal!  (I've never replaced an air filter in any of my vehicles that I recall, but we don't smoke in them, or live anywhere particularly dusty, so I don't know what the part cost is on that to the dealer).

thurston howell iv

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Re: Car Trouble? **UPDATE: Mechanic's Verdict**
« Reply #44 on: December 12, 2013, 05:23:59 AM »
To my knowledge the flush or "exchange" removes all of the old fluid and often utilizes a solvent to clean the inside of a transmission. The guidance that I have received from transmission rebuilders is that newer transmissions can benefit from regular exchanges as it keeps the transmission clean. However, many have stated that flushing an old trans that has never been "serviced" may cause issues (ie: dislodging crud and putting it in a spot to block passages, etc.).

The OP said that the trans had never been touched except for the occasional topping off of fluid (IIRC). Hence, my inclination to drop the pan, inspect, replace the filter and add new fluid (yes, it's only 1/3 new but it beat putting in a new trans). I have found that the Jaguar guys like to run some Seafoam trans treatment through their transmissions and then drain. (Some will even do an "exchange" by disconnecting the trans lines, running the pump, and adding new fluid until it comes out clean!  They tend to have issues with transmissions as their transmissions are sealed and supposed to be lifetime fluid applications- apparently not the case!) 

Anyway, my point in this was that $500 was too much money to spend on a "maybe" for a transmission that is cheap and plentiful. It would be cheaper and easier to buy a lower mile unit or maybe even a rebuilt one.

As for oil and air filters being a deal at $45? I don't understand that.  This is a 1999 Corolla, not an Aston Martin. I think it holds something like 3.9qts You can buy a 5 qt jug of regular oil at walmart (Mobil 1) for about $13. A new oil filter for $2.97. And an air filter for $10 or so?  Even is she were to use full synthetic it wouldn't cost $45.  I suppose if she used some Royal Purple, Neo, or some other performance oil at $7 a quart maybe...

Not trying to stir up a controversy. I'm on a tight budget and need to make things last. So, my goal is always best bang for the buck. And it irks me when I see people being taken advantage of. The OP's situation is one where she could save hundreds of dollars by just shopping around a bit. I don't know about you all but I'd prefer to keep as much of my money as possible.

PeachFuzzInVA

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Re: Car Trouble? **UPDATE: Mechanic's Verdict**
« Reply #45 on: December 12, 2013, 06:11:10 AM »
To my knowledge the flush or "exchange" removes all of the old fluid and often utilizes a solvent to clean the inside of a transmission. The guidance that I have received from transmission rebuilders is that newer transmissions can benefit from regular exchanges as it keeps the transmission clean. However, many have stated that flushing an old trans that has never been "serviced" may cause issues (ie: dislodging crud and putting it in a spot to block passages, etc.).

The OP said that the trans had never been touched except for the occasional topping off of fluid (IIRC). Hence, my inclination to drop the pan, inspect, replace the filter and add new fluid (yes, it's only 1/3 new but it beat putting in a new trans). I have found that the Jaguar guys like to run some Seafoam trans treatment through their transmissions and then drain. (Some will even do an "exchange" by disconnecting the trans lines, running the pump, and adding new fluid until it comes out clean!  They tend to have issues with transmissions as their transmissions are sealed and supposed to be lifetime fluid applications- apparently not the case!) 

Anyway, my point in this was that $500 was too much money to spend on a "maybe" for a transmission that is cheap and plentiful. It would be cheaper and easier to buy a lower mile unit or maybe even a rebuilt one.

As for oil and air filters being a deal at $45? I don't understand that.  This is a 1999 Corolla, not an Aston Martin. I think it holds something like 3.9qts You can buy a 5 qt jug of regular oil at walmart (Mobil 1) for about $13. A new oil filter for $2.97. And an air filter for $10 or so?  Even is she were to use full synthetic it wouldn't cost $45.  I suppose if she used some Royal Purple, Neo, or some other performance oil at $7 a quart maybe...

Not trying to stir up a controversy. I'm on a tight budget and need to make things last. So, my goal is always best bang for the buck. And it irks me when I see people being taken advantage of. The OP's situation is one where she could save hundreds of dollars by just shopping around a bit. I don't know about you all but I'd prefer to keep as much of my money as possible.

I'd be with you on the transmission flush if this were 15 years ago when we were still using the older style machines. It's been well over 10 years since I've seen a drive it in, push it out transmission flush. The newer style machines don't use the high pressure push/pull like they did a decade ago.

The OP doesn't sound very experienced or very confident in being able to do the work, so it is going to cost a little more because you have to factor in the cost of somebody else doing the work. If you shop around, you may be able to find a $19.95 oil change coupon (walmart, sears, merchants), but that air filter on her car is going to be about $20 no matter where she goes.
 http://shop.advanceautoparts.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/category_air-filters-related_14979
 http://www.autozone.com/autozone/parts/1999-Toyota-Corolla/Air-Filter/_/N-jdoqtZajdep
 http://www.oreillyauto.com/site/c/search/Air+Filter/02512/C0023.oap?model=Corolla&vi=1432911&year=1999&make=Toyota.
« Last Edit: December 12, 2013, 06:15:26 AM by Nic »

fodder69

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Re: Car Trouble? **UPDATE: Mechanic's Verdict**
« Reply #46 on: December 12, 2013, 07:04:07 AM »
These are all pretty easy things to do except the transmission flush. I'd say your mechanic is charging a bit too much but not sure where you are.

$ 45 for the oil and air filter is not horrible. DIY would be $10 air filter, $7.50 oil filter and oil probably $16-20 (FYI, I looked all these prices up at advance auto), so $33 for the parts and $12 to do the work is fine.

A tie rod (presuming outside, much more common) is pretty easy to do for most people. You can rent a tie rod separator at advance and it is two bolts after that. The tie rod end alone is only like $10 for the cheapie advance brand up to $32 for slightly better one. Tool rental free (after deposit)

Transmission hose it's harder to say, but probably really cheap for a host and clamps. There are some good links to how tos and such.

https://www.google.com/search?q=1999+corolla+transmission+hose&oq=1999+corolla+transmission+hose&aqs=chrome..69i57.6201j0j7&sourceid=chrome&espv=210&es_sm=122&ie=UTF-8

Here is a link to a diy trans fluid change.

http://www.toyotanation.com/forum/107-camry-solara-lounge/141381-diy-flush-transmission-fluid.html

Alignment needs to be done at a shop, no way around that. $75

All that said, if you're not up for the work I'd look in the local craigslist under services, automotive for a DIY guy that can come do the work. Have the shop do the oil change and pay whatever diagnostics they want, maybe $75. Here is a link to my area but I am sure there are similar guys around you with good know how and could save you lots of money.

http://charlotte.craigslist.org/aos/

NinetyFour

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Re: Car Trouble? **UPDATE: Mechanic's Verdict**
« Reply #47 on: December 12, 2013, 08:16:04 AM »
I'll repeat what I said upthread.  At the very least, change your own air filter.  My DIY car experience includes swapping out spare tire for flat tire, checking oil (looking at dipstick), topping off windshield wiper fluid, replacing various lights, and replacing air filter (so only quite easy stuff).  If I can replace my air filter (Tacoma), so can you.  Easy peasy.

prodarwin

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Re: Car Trouble? **UPDATE: Mechanic's Verdict**
« Reply #48 on: December 12, 2013, 09:35:46 AM »

Alignment needs to be done at a shop, no way around that. $75


If the alignment is fine now, you definitely don't need a shop to re-align after a new tie rod end.  Its just front toe - IMO the easiest part of aligning a car.

thurston howell iv

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Re: Car Trouble? **UPDATE: Mechanic's Verdict**
« Reply #49 on: December 12, 2013, 11:27:01 AM »
Air filter. Rock Auto. As low as $2.93

http://www.rockauto.com/catalog/raframecatalog.php?ck[PHPSESSID]=m4iof6l5kjkme3ndro67i11673&ck[viewcurrency]=USD&ck[ID]=0&ck[idlist]=0&ck[PHP_SESSION_ID]=m4iof6l5kjkme3ndro67i11673


Don't forget the discount code:   A4264E97BE89
5% Off Your Order. Ends 01/14/2014


 
« Last Edit: December 12, 2013, 11:29:13 AM by thurston howell iv »