Author Topic: Car Trouble? **UPDATE: Mechanic's Verdict**  (Read 17896 times)

BlueMR2

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Re: Car Trouble? **UPDATE: Mechanic's Verdict**
« Reply #50 on: December 12, 2013, 04:28:04 PM »
If I can replace my air filter (Tacoma), so can you.  Easy peasy.

Depends on the car.  I'm not afraid to do intermediate things like rebuild brake calipers.  I will not change the air filter on my MR2.  The cross bracing above it has to be removed to gain access and it's a nightmare to reinstall and has resulted in me taking the car in with pieces in hand due to not being able to get it back together myself.  :-)

Rebecca Stapler

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Re: Car Trouble? **UPDATE: Mechanic's Verdict**
« Reply #51 on: December 13, 2013, 07:56:42 PM »
You guys are awesome. Thank you so much for all the discussion on here -- it is so useful. After dropping the Haynes manual in my amazon cart, my mechanic called and said that the work was done. So, for now, the deed is done and I'll pay the piper but it's not going to happen again. I'm ready to continue learning about how to maintain this car and even repair it when necessary.

I thought I would share the ultimate breakdown of the costs, which ended up coming to $875.

$70 -- Diagnose leak
$177 -- Replace transmission cooling line (includes transmission cooler part)
$161 -- Transmission power flush service with "Transtech(G)," includes a transmission treatment and 11 qts of fluid
$180 -- replace right outer tie rod end
$95 -- 4-wheel alignment
$35 -- oil change, including 4 qts of oil and oil filter
$54 -- replace air filter, includes air filter
$35 -- clean cables and test battery
$875 -- TOTAL

I am absolutely doing the air filter myself next time, if not the entire oil change. My husband thinks I'm nuts to want to change the oil myself, and the savings seem negligible, but I'll definitely do the air filter!

They recommend doing the trans flush annually, but we drive this car less than 1,000 miles per year and I just can't see adding $170/year to the maintenance schedule. (They also recommend an annual alignment. I don't think so!)

Self-employed-swami

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Re: Car Trouble? **UPDATE: Mechanic's Verdict**
« Reply #52 on: December 13, 2013, 11:53:13 PM »
I haven't had an alignment done on any of my vehicles, ever, and I wouldn't even have to pay for it.  My mechanic Dad says they are rarely required, unless you slide into a curb, skid into something (like a ditch).  I once slid backwards into a snow-filled ditch at about 70km/h (in a 2006 Tundra), and I didn't even wreck the alignment doing that (the only thing that actually happened, aside from my almost peeing my pants, was a tail light bulb wiggled loose).

For a car that doesn't go off-road, or doesn't run unto curbs regularly, you likely don't need an alignment unless they are taking apart axil joints (or whatever you'd call them) to do other work.

Self-employed-swami

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Re: Car Trouble? **UPDATE: Mechanic's Verdict**
« Reply #53 on: December 14, 2013, 12:05:19 AM »
If I can replace my air filter (Tacoma), so can you.  Easy peasy.

Depends on the car.  I'm not afraid to do intermediate things like rebuild brake calipers.  I will not change the air filter on my MR2.  The cross bracing above it has to be removed to gain access and it's a nightmare to reinstall and has resulted in me taking the car in with pieces in hand due to not being able to get it back together myself.  :-)

That's because your engine is in the wrong end of your car ;)

BlueMR2

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Re: Car Trouble? **UPDATE: Mechanic's Verdict**
« Reply #54 on: December 14, 2013, 06:50:54 AM »
For a car that doesn't go off-road, or doesn't run unto curbs regularly, you likely don't need an alignment unless they are taking apart axil joints (or whatever you'd call them) to do other work.

This is my experience.  I used to take the car in yearly, and every year they said "yep, nothing moved".  I quit doing it eventually...  Oh, and my car sees hard use on the track and on heavily potholed/rutted dirt/gravel road rally events.  Even dropping the rear crossmember to replace the alternator didn't require an alignment since it's done as a single unit.  The thrust angle was a smidge off, but that doesn't impact tire wear.

paddedhat

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Re: Car Trouble? **UPDATE: Mechanic's Verdict**
« Reply #55 on: December 14, 2013, 07:02:46 AM »
Couple of points to think about. First, your repair shop isn't shy about charging. $54 for an air filter that's 1/10 of that at the local parts place, $35 for playing with the battery,  pretty profitable operation, indeed. Just MHO, but they are best avoided for future service. When it comes to flushing the trans. again, given the fact that you barely use the vehicle, unless you do something extremely out of character (towing a heavy uhaul trailer, or some other unusual event) I wouldn't give it another thought. Check the fluid level every few weeks, until you determine that it doesn't have issues, and your good for the next ten years. As for another poster claim that alignments are some frivolous waste of money, do you like having a car that goes where you point it, and doesn't destroy expensive tires? If so, alignments are a necessary part of responsible maintenance. On a monthly basis, tires need to be inspected for inflation and wear. They should show even wear across the tread, and no signs of issues, particularly on the outer edges of the tread, where scalloping, chopping, and uneven wear on the outer tread indicate issues that need to be addressed.  Different vehicles have hugely different needs when it comes to controlling tread wear. I Have a CRV that will frequently damage front tires, if the alignment is off, and I fail to rotate and balance the tires every 5K miles. OTOH, I just sold a Chevy van with 125K miles and it had a gift for wearing tires down, slowly, dead even and drama free. I rotated them every year, or two, and never had it aligned. 

 Like most free advice on the net, you need to develop your own conclusions, based on your experience. The last two post about alignment are excellent examples. Like my van, these folks are lucky enough to own vehicles that hold their alignment setting pretty well. Taking that information, and offering the conclusion that there is no need to align a vehicle is incorrect. I have owned vehicles that couldn't wear a tire straight, no matter how diligent you were in maintaining them, and others that were quite the opposite, you need to see where you fit on that scale. Good luck.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2013, 07:09:54 AM by paddedhat »

thurston howell iv

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Re: Car Trouble? **UPDATE: Mechanic's Verdict**
« Reply #56 on: December 14, 2013, 09:11:10 AM »
You guys are awesome. Thank you so much for all the discussion on here -- it is so useful. After dropping the Haynes manual in my amazon cart, my mechanic called and said that the work was done. So, for now, the deed is done and I'll pay the piper but it's not going to happen again. I'm ready to continue learning about how to maintain this car and even repair it when necessary.

I thought I would share the ultimate breakdown of the costs, which ended up coming to $875.

$70 -- Diagnose leak
$177 -- Replace transmission cooling line (includes transmission cooler part)
$161 -- Transmission power flush service with "Transtech(G)," includes a transmission treatment and 11 qts of fluid
$180 -- replace right outer tie rod end
$95 -- 4-wheel alignment
$35 -- oil change, including 4 qts of oil and oil filter
$54 -- replace air filter, includes air filter
$35 -- clean cables and test battery
$875 -- TOTAL

I am absolutely doing the air filter myself next time, if not the entire oil change. My husband thinks I'm nuts to want to change the oil myself, and the savings seem negligible, but I'll definitely do the air filter!

They recommend doing the trans flush annually, but we drive this car less than 1,000 miles per year and I just can't see adding $170/year to the maintenance schedule. (They also recommend an annual alignment. I don't think so!)

I hope this giant bill will encourage you to learn more about your car even if you rarely drive it. This is the sort of thing that made me learn how to do my own work. The idea that the oil change is negligible in terms of cost is correct but, I like being able to get under the car and looking at things myself... Some shops are less than honest and will "find" issues to charge you for when it's not necessary.  Easier to see things with your own eyes and ask questions BEFORE spending money.





Greg

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Re: Car Trouble? **UPDATE: Mechanic's Verdict**
« Reply #57 on: December 14, 2013, 09:34:41 AM »
A note about "never needing an alignment."  If nothing is ever changed on your vehicle's suspension, you probably could get away with this, especially on an older vehicle.  Newer vehicles use rubber bushings in many places which can sage over time, changing the alignment.  An alignment is required any time you change out a suspension/steering part that affects an alignment setting, like in this case the outer tie-rod end.  It's possible to get it very close without an alignment rack, but nearly impossible to get it just right.  A few degrees off on the toe setting for instance can cause poor handling and excessive wear.  Getting an alignment can also be a helpful diagnostic process, a good alignment tech will inspect joints and bushings that affect the alignment and can recommend what parts might need replacement.

If you could somehow ensure that the replacement part was precisely like the old part, you could matchmark the locknut (in the case of a tie-rod end) and count turns when the old part is threaded off, but there's simply no way to ensure the new part matches the old part well enough.

prodarwin

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Re: Car Trouble? **UPDATE: Mechanic's Verdict**
« Reply #58 on: December 14, 2013, 05:16:56 PM »
It's possible to get it very close without an alignment rack, but nearly impossible to get it just right.  A few degrees off on the toe setting for instance can cause poor handling and excessive wear.

I would agree that it can be difficult to get it just right, except for front toe.  Front toe is the EASIEST part of an alignment.  Granted, you may not have the tools to do it, but its definitely possible.

I set mine with 2 24" toe plates and 2 tape measures.  Measuring to +/- 1/32" accuracy is pretty easy, which results in toe that is within 0.074 degrees of your target setting.

Another thing you'll find after doing alignments yourself... shops are terribly inaccurate unless you go to a shop that sets up modified cars, or you specify that the alignment yourself and slip the mechanic an extra $25-50.  Many shops read the factory specs and tell you if your car falls within the specs that its good, even if its terribly uneven like -0.1 deg camber on the LF and -1.3 on the RF.

paddedhat

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Re: Car Trouble? **UPDATE: Mechanic's Verdict**
« Reply #59 on: December 15, 2013, 10:17:48 AM »
A note about "never needing an alignment."  If nothing is ever changed on your vehicle's suspension, you probably could get away with this, especially on an older vehicle.

Not sure where you live, and it probably greatly effects your experience on this issue. That said, here in the Northeast, and huge swaths of N.A. that have lots of freeze/thaw cycles, roads suck, and alignments are a routine maintenance for most drivers.  "If nothing ever changes" is exactly the point. Unless you are driving on high quality roads, never hit debris, never nick a curb, and are exceptionally lucky, Things change. You take a moment to visually inspect your tires on a regular basis, and address any issues.

I just bought a really clean four year old pick-up with 60K miles on it. It has a set of nearly new, high end tires on it. The tires are destroyed. The issue is a lack of maintenance. Had the previous owner kept the alignment up to spec. and the tires rotated and balanced on a regular basis, it would have 30-40K miles of tread life left. At this point they are throw-aways, severely scalloped junk.

The posters here, that claim that alignments are some sort of frivolous luxury, are a little strange. In my case, the last owner of the vehicle dropped $700 for four new tires and destroyed them in 10K miles. Gee, for less than $100 bucks, the tires would of run 4X as long. I guess he was smarter than I am, look at the money he saved?

BlueMR2

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Re: Car Trouble? **UPDATE: Mechanic's Verdict**
« Reply #60 on: December 15, 2013, 04:31:56 PM »
The posters here, that claim that alignments are some sort of frivolous luxury, are a little strange. In my case, the last owner of the vehicle dropped $700 for four new tires and destroyed them in 10K miles. Gee, for less than $100 bucks, the tires would of run 4X as long. I guess he was smarter than I am, look at the money he saved?

YMMV I guess.  Like I said above, I beat on my cars (and drive in/around Detroit on both paved and unpaved roads where my car has left the ground and slammed through craters on roads the look like minefields).  Nothing ever moves on the alignment.  I own Toyota and Mitsubishi, perhaps those are the makes you should look for in order to get better durability.

BlueMR2

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Re: Car Trouble? **UPDATE: Mechanic's Verdict**
« Reply #61 on: December 15, 2013, 04:35:03 PM »
I set mine with 2 24" toe plates and 2 tape measures.  Measuring to +/- 1/32" accuracy is pretty easy, which results in toe that is within 0.074 degrees of your target setting.

Another thing you'll find after doing alignments yourself... shops are terribly inaccurate unless you go to a shop that sets up modified cars, or you specify that the alignment yourself and slip the mechanic an extra $25-50.  Many shops read the factory specs and tell you if your car falls within the specs that its good, even if its terribly uneven like -0.1 deg camber on the LF and -1.3 on the RF.

Funny story about that.  My Wife (GF at the time) used to race a 1g Eclipse.  We threw camber bolts in it and aligned it in the driveway to get it good enough to get down to the shop.  It came off the alignment rack worse than when we took it in!  Made them fix it right then and there.  They had to pull a different guy to go over there to get it exactly right.  Really annoying that we can do a better job in the driveway with a tape measure than the "average" tech they had there could do with the laser alignment system!  The modified car specialist got it dialed in perfect though.

Rebecca Stapler

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Re: Car Trouble? **UPDATE: Mechanic's Verdict**
« Reply #62 on: December 17, 2013, 02:31:30 PM »
Thanks for all of your thoughts on the alignment. We live in the northeast, where the bad weather does cause us to bump over a chunk of snow now and then, but I've generally approached alignments as a "you get one when you need one" kind of expense. If I feel the wheel tug one way or another, I'll test the alignment and get the tires balanced, then aligned if that doesn't fix it. But like I said, with 1,000 miles / year on this car, it's pretty unlikely that the alignment will get out of whack each year.

Exflyboy

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Re: Car Trouble? **UPDATE: Mechanic's Verdict**
« Reply #63 on: December 17, 2013, 05:19:33 PM »
Woah hold on a minute...

I replaced the tie rod end on my Neon this last weekend.. cost $21 for the tie rod end and took 20 minutes using a BFH to knock the tapered pin out of the steering knuckle.

For alignments I use Firestone.. $150 for a lifetime alignment.. I get my alignment checked every 6 to 10,000 miles for zero cost. Proper 4 wheel alignment makes your tires last longer.

So replace the tie rod and take it down to Firestone and sign up for the lifetime deal... Replace both tie rods, use the Duralast brand from Autozone... Tie rods are usually done in pairs and don't need the special joint splitter as your not reusing the tie end anyway,... So just hit it hard on top of the thread.

I don't do automatics.... I hate the damn things.. only needed for lazy people who can't drive.. and always seem to cost a freaking fortune to fix.

Dropping the pan and replaceing the filter, hose and refilling seems a sensible step.. Should take a couple of hours.

Exflyboy

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Re: Car Trouble? **UPDATE: Mechanic's Verdict**
« Reply #64 on: December 17, 2013, 05:28:19 PM »
Wire brush the battery terminals and re-asseble using vaseline to stop the corrosion coming back.

Sounds to me this a $200 DIY job and a days worth of work.

After that you realise you can do almost anything on a car...:)

Frank

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Re: Car Trouble? **UPDATE: Mechanic's Verdict**
« Reply #65 on: December 18, 2013, 02:28:33 AM »
The posters here, that claim that alignments are some sort of frivolous luxury, are a little strange. In my case, the last owner of the vehicle dropped $700 for four new tires and destroyed them in 10K miles. Gee, for less than $100 bucks, the tires would of run 4X as long. I guess he was smarter than I am, look at the money he saved?

YMMV I guess.  Like I said above, I beat on my cars (and drive in/around Detroit on both paved and unpaved roads where my car has left the ground and slammed through craters on roads the look like minefields).  Nothing ever moves on the alignment.  I own Toyota and Mitsubishi, perhaps those are the makes you should look for in order to get better durability.

I'd say that a good portion of my driving in my truck, is gravel roads, poorly maintained roads, and off road (think like ice road truckers/logging roads).  I also drive 500-1000kms on pavement a month (at least), and I have never wrecked a set of tires.  Maybe it's the quality (Toyota) of vehicle I drive?  ;)
« Last Edit: December 18, 2013, 02:30:47 AM by Self-employed-swami »

paddedhat

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Re: Car Trouble? **UPDATE: Mechanic's Verdict**
« Reply #66 on: December 22, 2013, 12:15:21 PM »

I'd say that a good portion of my driving in my truck, is gravel roads, poorly maintained roads, and off road (think like ice road truckers/logging roads).  I also drive 500-1000kms on pavement a month (at least), and I have never wrecked a set of tires.  Maybe it's the quality (Toyota) of vehicle I drive?  ;)

I think it drills down to specifics of individual models, years etc...... and most importantly tires. I have a buddy that does a lot of fleet service work. He tries hard to steer regular customers toward Michelin LTX highway tread tires on all their light trucks. Nothing to see a work van run a set for 80-90K when the same truck was getting 35-40K from "whatever is in stock and cheap" in the past. I have had Chevy 4wds that could wear any tire down, dead even, and a 2wd Ford that could wreck a tire in six months. The key is paying attention and understanding that every vehicle and tire combo. is going to perform differently, and proper alignment and balancing is something you are free to ignore, and you may get lucky and never pay the price for it. Or, you may trash a set of tires before you notice.