Dealership trying to rip me off for service?

Tiny
SAWABIAL
  • MEMBER
  • 2007 TOYOTA HIGHLANDER
  • 110,000 MILES
Car: 2007 Toyota Highlander (base model) w/ 110k miles

Dealership is quoting:

$894.97 for Idler pully replacement
$293.68 for Transmission pan gasket replacement (its leaking), and
$141.43 for Rear sway bar replacement

Do these prices seem reasonable?
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Thursday, June 6th, 2013 AT 11:14 AM

5 Replies

Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Maybe in California in the land of the fruit and nuts, but in the normal parts of the country I would want to see an itemized list of the charges. It's very rare to need an anti-sway bar so I'm guessing you need a link. A new link could cost around 40 - 50 bucks, and while it's not necessary to replace them both, it is customary to do so since they're both the same age. Due to their design it can take a half hour to replace both, so $141.43 would be about right. In most parts of the country shops have to charge around $100.00 per hour for labor to pay all the taxes, insurances, regulations, and other expenses. If you saw a list of what they have to pay, you'd wonder how they could afford to stay in business while charging so little.

The charge for the transmission service is too high for a simple filter and fluid change. That would include resealing the pan with a new gasket. Most use sealant from a tube now instead of a cork or fiber gasket.

They apparently are quite proud of that idler pulley and are charging accordingly for it. First I'd want to know which one it is. There's one that is for the serpentine belt that runs the generator, power steering pump, and possibly the air conditioning compressor. On some engines those can be hard to replace but I doubt it would take more than an hour. The only reference I can find is for the 2.4L engine and that one includes a hydraulic damper. That assembly could cost around $250.00 to $300.00, so with labor it would appear they're charging double what it should cost.

Some engines use a timing belt with a tensioner pulley and an idler pulley. The water pump may be an idler pulley. It is customary to replace all of those parts along with the timing belt to insure the quality of the repair. The charge could be about right for the timing belt service. That is a pretty big job. Are you having a problem that was diagnosed as being related to the timing belt, or is it simply due for replacement based on mileage? A lot of import engines are of the "interference" design. A broken timing belt will result in very costly engine repairs due to bent valves so to avoid that those timing belts must be replaced based on mileage.

Find out which belt is related to that idler pulley. Based on the mileage you listed it is overdue for a timing belt and I'd be nervous driving the vehicle. If your engine uses a timing chain, the mileage is not a concern.
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Thursday, June 6th, 2013 AT 11:58 AM
Tiny
SAWABIAL
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To clarify its the V6 model, not the 2.4L.

Im working on finding out exactly which pulley they are talking about.

The thing is that I already had the water pump replaced at 100k miles and the timing belt replaced at 105k miles.
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Thursday, June 6th, 2013 AT 12:05 PM
Tiny
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And they charge $110/hr for labor.
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Thursday, June 6th, 2013 AT 12:05 PM
Tiny
SAWABIAL
  • MEMBER
I brought the car in because it had been consistently making an odd noise when idling/accelerating after being driven for 15-20min. Difficult to describe the noise, but definitely metal on metal 'crackling-like' sound.
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Thursday, June 6th, 2013 AT 12:08 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
I can add a couple of observations. First of all, $110.00 per hour is not out-of-line. I'm glad I don't have to pay that, but every year I gave my students a list of the expenses new car dealers had to pay, and they ended up wondering how they could afford to stay in business when they charged so little. My list filled two columns with real small type. Unfortunately the biggest reason is government sticking their noses in where they don't belong since politicians know nothing about cars and democrats know nothing about running businesses. Now we have to pay for the results of those we voted into office.

Second, if you can hear the noise while the car is standing still with the engine running, you may be able to identify the cause yourself with a stethoscope. Harbor Freight Tools has one if you have one of those stores nearby. Auto parts stores have them too and they aren't real expensive. If that pulley is for the serpentine belt, the amount you listed is way too high unless there's something I don't know about or am overlooking. I would get a second opinion from a different shop. Don't mention which shop gave you the high estimate because if the two shops are friends, the second one may also give you a high estimate to make their friend look better. If they aren't on friendly terms the second shop could unfairly give you a real low estimate to make their competitor look bad. Just tell them you want a quote to replace the specific part. Keep in mind both estimates will include parts and labor, but the first one likely will also include the time needed to determine the cause and remedy so it could understandably be higher. Also, if you agree to have the second shop do the work, you are paying them to install a part. If the diagnosis is wrong, that is not their problem; they just performed the service you asked for. It would be better to let the second shop do their own diagnosis and see if they come up with the same solution, THEN see what they have for an estimate.

Most shops use a "flat rate guide" which spells out the time allowed to do a procedure. They get real specific based on engine size, optional equipment on the car that makes access more difficult, additional parts of a job or additional time for additional parts. That means all shops should quote you the same amount of time down to the tenth of an hour. The variables are their hourly labor rate and the quality of the parts they're installing. Dealerships normally install parts they get from the manufacturer which usually cost more than aftermarket replacements. Independent repair shops may use dealer parts but they usually use aftermarket parts that are less expensive, have better warranties, and are typically as good as the originals. A lot of aftermarket parts suppliers address common problems with original parts and they make theirs better. Some aftermarket parts even come from the same suppliers that sold them to the car manufacturer. They just put their own name on the box, so you could get the same part that the dealer would sell you.
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Thursday, June 6th, 2013 AT 2:16 PM

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