1993 Lexus ES 300 • 148,000 miles

How many sections does the exhaust system come in for this car? In 2007 I had front exhaust down pipe (flex pipe) replaced, costing $612.09. Now I am told that the front pipe has a rusted hole and needs to be replaced, costing $690.73. Are there more than on front pipe? I have seen the current rusted pipe. I am wondering if I paid for a job not done in 2007. I am feeling very frustrated, wondering if I was riipped off in 2007, and now need the same work that I was charged for then. The current rusted pipe looks very old.
January 11, 2013.

This is exactly why mechanics are not trusted. You have to stop and think that when the car was fixed in 2007, the noise was gone, right? Why would you possibly think you were ripped off if the problem was gone for five years? If your toothache doesn't come back for five years, do you blame the dentist for ripping you off? If your kitchen sink drain springs a leak, do you blame the plumber when the bathroom sink drain pops a leak five years later?

All sarcasm aside, typically the exhaust system would come from the manufacturer as a single item with all the separate pieces welded together, from front to rear, and it would cost well over $3000.00. You, as a paying customer would never get that and no dealer would ever order it for you that way. The system would only come that way if the car was under warranty and the manufacturer was paying the bill. They do that to insure all the parts are in perfect alignment so they don't rattle or hit other parts of the car, and because replacement parts under warranty are supposed to put that system back to like new condition. Once it's out of warranty you only buy and pay for what is needed. Unfortunately all Japanese cars use expensive exhaust parts including those flex pipes. If you look at any older Chrysler product you will see the exhaust pipe can slide on the exhaust manifold as the engine rocks during acceleration and braking, and to form a leak-proof seal, there's a steel gasket in there and the pipe is held on snugly with two spring-loaded bolts. Those gaskets commonly wore out and caused a very tiny squeaking sound that you could barely hear, but they had so many complaints about it that they too started using flexible pipes to let the engine rock. As a result of all those complaints, you have a $612.00 flex pipe that is more prone to leaking than a ten-dollar gasket.

By the way, at $612.00, you got a good deal. If that included labor, you got a REALLY good deal and you should be taking your mechanic a box of chocolate chip cookies, not accusing him of ripping you off.

Once the car is out of warranty we only cut out the parts that are rusted and replace them. The problem is we have to clamp those new parts to old pipes that are rusted thin and often crush. A conscientious mechanic will try to sell you the other parts that are about to develop a leak but then they get accused of selling more parts than you need. As a result, you have another exhaust leak five years later, ... And you're still mad. No matter what the mechanic does you're going to be unhappy. Conscientious mechanics look out for you in the long run. They know that when that first pipe develops a leak, all the other parts are just as old and are going to suffer the same fate. Some mechanics think they're doing you a favor by replacing just the leaking part. They have to be extra careful when working around those old crumbling parts. Then they can pat themselves on the back for saving you some money, but what does it get them? An angry customer five years later.

Jan 11, 2013.