Costs of vehicle repairs/maintenance

Shel_B

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If you desire brake fluid flushes, fuel injection flushes, batteries replaced because “it’s weak” shocks/struts replaced “because they are old”, and every other money making scheme, get over to a Firestone service center.

I would say most auto repair establishments, not just Firestone's.
I asked a couple of the shops I use to change out my PCV valve and about cleaning the Camry's throttle body. You'd think they'd jump at the chance but both shops (which, of course, know the car) said it wasn't needed.

One of the shops refused to change the plugs on my Buick saying that they were iridium and didn't need it, and they pulled a plug to show me the condition.

My brake guy turned down a chance to do a pad replacement because the pads had more life to them than I originally thought.

Maybe I'm just a lucky guy ...
 
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I asked a couple of the shops I use to change out my PCV valve and about cleaning the Camry's throttle body. You'd think they'd jump at the chance but both shops (which, of course, know the car) said it wasn't needed.
Those aren't exactly high profit services plus the PCV is a royal pain to change on the 2.5.
 

Shel_B

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Those aren't exactly high profit services plus the PCV is a royal pain to change on the 2.5.
Are you suggesting that the shops did not have my best interest in mind, but rather opted out of the work because there wasn't enough money in it for them? If that really were the case, I'd be very disappointed as my relationships with these shops goes back as far as the mid-1980s. I suppose anything is possible these days ... <shrug>
 
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Are you suggesting that the shops did not have my best interest in mind, but rather opted out of the work because there wasn't enough money in it for them? If that really were the case, I'd be very disappointed as my relationships with these shops goes back as far as the mid-1980s. I suppose anything is possible these days ... <shrug>
I personally don’t see the point of replacing PCV’s on that engine for preventative maintenance, expense/reward make zero sense.

Throttle body services are not exactly gravy for what they typically pay. 1/2 hr, maybe? Gotta disassemble, clean, do an idle relearn (sometimes scan tool required), and sometimes cleaning them causes issues.

The fluid flushes and certain other items are probably a higher gross profit per hour.
 
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I asked a couple of the shops I use to change out my PCV valve and about cleaning the Camry's throttle body. You'd think they'd jump at the chance but both shops (which, of course, know the car) said it wasn't needed.

One of the shops refused to change the plugs on my Buick saying that they were iridium and didn't need it, and they pulled a plug to show me the condition.

My brake guy turned down a chance to do a pad replacement because the pads had more life to them than I originally thought.

Maybe I'm just a lucky guy ...
I think it can be multiple things.

1. Sometimes you get lucky and the shop is actually looking out for you.

2. Sometimes it is a job they don't want to take on for the amount of work involved.

3. Sometimes it really isn't required as maintenance per the manufacturer, and their worst nightmare is selling a service to someone who is going to come back later and complain/leave a bad review that they were charged for something that wasn't required.
 

Astro14

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There's a short list of things which prevent me from doing all of my own maintenance however three of the top four are listed below in order of importance.

#1 Tools/Equipment
#2 Space
#3 Diagnostics for automaker centric codes.

Back in 2019 I worked up a spreadsheet to calculate my breakeven point for DIY vs Indy/Dealer for maintenance and expected repairs over the time period I intended to retain the vehicle.

It's almost 2023 and I have only spent about 50% of what it would cost me to perform the work myself. The gap is found in the upfront costs for tools and equipment.

When shops say people are paying for their experience. That's only half of it. The other half are the tools/equipment which the shop/technician has depreciated over a period of years.
While the rational side of me appreciates your analysis, DIY is now a part of my life. I’ve committed the up front tool costs. I’ve got a good selection of tools, a lift, a shop, four diagnostic computers (various laptops and MUX running Mercedes, Toyota, and Volvo software). I’ve even got AC gauges, a scale, and an EPA license.

Now that I’ve made the emotional commitment, not to mention financial investment, over several decades of working on cars, I’m not certain I can be swayed by rational analysis… 😎
 

Shel_B

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I personally don’t see the point of replacing PCV’s on that engine for preventative maintenance, expense/reward make zero sense.

Throttle body services are not exactly gravy for what they typically pay. 1/2 hr, maybe? Gotta disassemble, clean, do an idle relearn (sometimes scan tool required), and sometimes cleaning them causes issues.

The fluid flushes and certain other items are probably a higher gross profit per hour.
Thanks for the explanation and clarification.
 
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I asked a couple of the shops I use to change out my PCV valve and about cleaning the Camry's throttle body. You'd think they'd jump at the chance but both shops (which, of course, know the car) said it wasn't needed.
I change my PCV valves every 50K or thereabouts. Your shop was likely right in that its quite likely fine, but for me the low cost of the part along with it failing means it can gum up your top end pretty quick is a cost benefit risk not worth taking. Having said that mine are always 20 bucks and less than 20 minutes, so maybe in your case its different.

I clean the throttle body too, but that's something that will not really cause long term problems before you notice it running poorly, and it is a PIB, so leaving it might be the right decision in your case.

Another reason I prefer DIY - I don't like mechanics telling me what I do and don't need. Its my money to waste if I want.
 
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I change my PCV valves every 50K or thereabouts. Your shop was likely right in that its quite likely fine, but for me the low cost of the part along with it failing means it can gum up your top end pretty quick is a cost benefit risk not worth taking. Having said that mine are always 20 bucks and less than 20 minutes, so maybe in your case its different.
2AR PCV valves from that era are very difficult to access. You have to remove the intake manifold and the intake is on the firewall side.

I clean the throttle body too, but that's something that will not really cause long term problems before you notice it running poorly, and it is a PIB, so leaving it might be the right decision in your case.
IME leaving it alone is the best option. Although Toyota is not one of these, there are some vehicles where it can be nearly impossible to relearn the idle once the throttle body is cleaned (e.g. Nissan vehicles from a certain era). I have seen it require new throttle bodies and ECM in order to get the vehicle running again.
 

Shel_B

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2AR PCV valves from that era are very difficult to access. You have to remove the intake manifold and the intake is on the firewall side.
Another, and arguably better, option is to access the valve from below by raising the vehicle and removing the front passenger side wheel.

 
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For a while now, I've wondered how most people afford just regular maintenance but after buying a few used vehicles in the last year or so, I have serious doubts that they even do/pay for real maintenance very much.

Outside of what seems to be this industry standard for new vehicles where you get 2 years/24k miles of "free" maintenance (based on the very minimal "normal" driving habit schedule), I don't think many people really pay attention to car maintenance outside of an oil change when they think about it. Even then, it seems a lot of shops, even those with 988 five-star ratings, seem to perform fairly shoddy work and the vehicles really aren't taken care of, at least not anywhere close to my level of maintenance. Dirty engine bays, oils/fluids spilled all over, dust/grime collecting on the underside, mangled up crush washers, oil pan drain plugs mangled or even new/replacements, oil filter brands I've never heard of, etc.

Things I never see performed-

Serpentine belt until it breaks
Brake fluid flush (not even when a brake job is done and it will take a measly 10 extra minutes to do ONE axle worth)
Transmission service (ohhhhh, don't touch it, it might blow up!!! )
Spark plugs
Coolant drain and fill
Gear/Transfer case oil service
Grease fittings on U-joints/slip joints
Proper brake service (turn/replace rotors, really clean the bits and pieces of calipers, slide pins, replace boots, springs/clips/etc. )
Power Steering Fluid flush

All of this stuff is cheap in the long run and with today's premium on used vehicles, it's being asked for (at least service records) more and more. There's even some people, like me, that will make a hard pass on a vehicle that does not have service records.... because I know what I'm getting in to - a POS.

Then there's minor/medium repairs. Just this weekend I replaced the VTEC Solenoid module/piece on the 2008 Honda CR-V I bought for my daughter a month ago. It was the best that I could find of that era, 165k Miles on it, some verifiable service history (I called the shop the PO said they always used), but still...... A brake fluid flush had never been done. Power steering fluid had never been done. Coolant - you guessed it, never been done. Spark plugs - no record and they appeared to be original. There had been transmission fluid drop-n-fills a few times and the PO said the oil was always changed at 3-5k miles.

I spent $280 on plugs, power steering fluid, transmission fluid, brake fluid, valve cover gasket kit, valve lash adjustment tool to catch all the maintenance up. I still have to do the valve adjustment. This weekend I spent $180 on that new VTEC Solenoid part, coolant, oil and filter. I won't count the $80 Honda/Acura software I bought for my Foxwell code reader. I diagnosed the lights on the dash/code, went to Napa to get the part and replaced it, oil change and coolant drain and fill. All of that at the Honda dealer would have been over $550, like I said, I have $180 in it and yes, my labor. But I know it was all done, all done right.

The Plugs, power steering flush, brake fluid flush, 2x Tras fluid drop and fill, valve adjustment deal would have been well over $1k at a Honda Dealer, same with an indy shop. All of this stuff is very do-able for someone that has some basic tools and has intent on maintaining their cars.

I have SERIOUS doubts, even at "GOOD" shops, that the oil and filter always gets changed when someone requests it and pays for it. Why? Because the vehicles I've bought lately don't look like the ones I've maintained since day one on a similar maintenance plan. We used to have a 2007 CRV, owned since day 1, had it for 100k miles until someone totaled it. I changed the oil in it with Motorcraft 5W-20 and either a Wix or Honda filter at 7500-10,000 miles and it was NEVER as dirty as the oil I dropped Saturday that had "5k miles" on it.....

Anyway, I know, I've gone way off in the ditch. But here's my assessment after doing 20+ years of maintaining my own vehicles from new and taking over one I bought used - most people that pay a shop to work on their cars/do the maintenance on them are getting ripped off IMO. They aren't getting near the attention to detail/service that one would give their own car, I promise that. I know why for the most part - top "A" techs are not doing maintenance at shops. It's usually the lowest paid person working there - because customers are CHEAP and want it done cheap.

We have a 2013 Lexus LX570. About the only known problem for this era Land Cruiser / LX is the radiator busting on the top. Yes, ours did recently, right on time, 115k miles. I lucked out and got an OEM radiator at a Toyota dealer near our house who was having an online parts sale (they have a strong online parts presence), upper and lower hoses and 4 gallons of coolant for $350 or so. It took me fooling with it for 3 evenings (1 to remove, 1 to replace and 1 to make some final adjustments after buying hose clamp pliers, then filling with coolant and bleeding the air out and then doing a transmission fluid service). For the radiator, hoses, coolant, transmission pan gasket, filter and 4-1/2 quarts of fluid, I have about $500 in that job. It would have been $1500+ at the dealer.


Interesting, I bought a used car in 2016, ten years old. It is the Toyota flagship, the LS430.

I actually did all of the maintenance mentioned, except U joints and dunno what boots are referred to in the brakes, the pistons?. Don't have a transfer case but did the rear diff prior to the Toyota recommended as I got the car with 81k.

Serpentine belt until it breaks
Brake fluid flush (not even when a brake job is done and it will take a measly 10 extra minutes to do ONE axle worth)
Transmission service (ohhhhh, don't touch it, it might blow up!!! )
Spark plugs
Coolant drain and fill
Gear/Transfer case oil service

Grease fittings on U-joints/slip joints
Proper brake service (turn/replace rotors, really clean the bits and pieces of calipers, slide pins, replace boots, springs/clips/etc. )
Power Steering Fluid flush


I think there are people who do things by the book and spend tens of thousands at the dealer. I did take my car to Lexus for a coolant drain/fill and brake fluid because they jimmied the pricing, $59 for the brake fluid (I am 100% they did not bleed each caliper they used a siphon, esp at that price), and $79 for the coolant (this makes no sense either Toyota pink was $26/gal for 50/50 back then). The reason for the make believe pricing is they did a free multipoint and said I need $6,700 worth of work.

The independent garage did 1, then 2 at once (1 then drive then back and 1), and 1, for 4 transmission drain/fills. This is my first car with an auto so I wasn't sure why drain and fill until I researched. 3 drain and fills leaves 19% old fluid,that's almost 20% duh lol or 1/5. The 4th drain and fill would leave about 11% which is simply good enough. As we can see, each drain and fill is like a vaccination, diminishing returns. It will never be > 0% old fluid because it simply can't get anywhere near all of it out by a drain. The Toyota procedure is fascinating there's a good YouTube by Weber State showing the Toyota tool for it.

If we look at the carfax it was at the dealer all the time for the bogus services, Toyota has one every 5k, so made up. So I'm sure the original owner got the $6700 MPI too and traded the car in. 6 years have gone by and I did none of that $6700

Anyway the only reason I did the services, some DIY and some indie garage, was I'm the final owner of the vehicle, hoping to go 500-700k. The mileage is not the enemy, time is. And it's 8 cyl, to say a dinosaur is an understatement. We live in a 4 cyl turbo world. :ROFLMAO:

p.s. I did see how bad the LX570 job is on the starter motor. I would not trust a dealer to do that job (remove manifold?), heck they don't even change all 8 spark plugs I hear on my car.
 
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I perform all the service and repairs on our cars with rare exception including all the PM you mention in the OP. We have 4 cars with a 5th that will be flipped for profit after I am done working on it.

Yep. Maintenance is expensive and most folks don't keep up with it. Especially if they don't do it themselves. I am also quite particular on make/model/condition of the cars I purchase. We have a WJ Jeep with 242k miles but the person I purchased it from had rebuilt nearly the entire vehicle within the last few years. We also have a full size chevy with the 5.3 that has 220k or so. We purchased a Saturn Vue with the Honda 3.5 motor about 12 years ago and still have it although it is quickly just flat out falling apart around the motor.

Maintenance is far cheaper than repairs in most cases but both are necessary and in most cases those repairs are far cheaper than a newer vehicle though at somepoint a guy has to just cut it loose.

The most prevalent issue I personally have is the low quality of parts in the last couple of years. I also have concerns about the longevity of more modern vehicles in coming years with their high strung DI Turbo motors and CVT transmissions. The days of buying inexpensive cars to get you by are pretty much over.

Fun Story:
Anecdotally, I purchased a cheap car for a young family member who needed some financial help. I performed basic work on it for him and showed him how to do it. As the day came to a close and night was falling I told him all he needs to change spark plug #1. He later told me he changed it but never did and the car ran like crap. I offered to change it for him but he insisted he could do it. (Chevy 4.3) About 3 weeks later he was driving home and he said it started running very very rough. He decided to just keep driving it home instead of pulling over and as soon as he pulled into his apartment parking lot his car started on fire. Now, I don't know what exactly caused the fire but it seems he tried working on it the day prior and was too proud to ask for help when he couldn't figure it out. Car was a total loss and I now have to help him find another car. His money this time.

So yea, maintenance is key. (y)
 
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