High cost of vehicle maintenance

Jason Boggs

As some of you may have noticed, I am a big stickler about vehicle maintenance because I believe a vehicle is the most important chase tool.

My truck now has 100,000 miles ( want to get 200,000) on it so it is now time to do a little maintenance. I replaced the distributor cap and rotor yesterday so I'm off to a good start. I need to get the timing belt and water pump replaced for a whopping $500. My throwout bearing is also going out in the clutch and I'm going to get a complete clutch job done for about $850. I still have quite a few other things that need to be done by spring including:

getting front end aligned
replace the fuel filter
replace PCV filter
replace radiator hoses
replace thermostat
get new shocks

WHEWW! At this rate I will be broke before spring ever gets here! I better get my act together and get a secong job!!!

I almost forgot...does anybody have any tips on finding a good reputable car repair facility?
 
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Wow man. This is why I do almost ALL of my vehicle work myself. Of course it doesn't hurt that once upon a time I used to be an ASE Certified mechanic for a while either. I am sure you know, in most cases, the majority of the money you spend for repairs is high labor costs.

Tip though, for anything other than an oil change, find yourself a GOOD ASE Certified Mechanic. Preferably a MASTER Certified mechanic. There are various certifications for different vehicle systems, like Steering & Suspension, Electrical etc. A Master Tech has passed all the basic certifications. If you can find a good master tech, keep and use him all the time, and when you go to that shop, REQUEST that he be the one working on it.

Oh, and never, ever get an oil change at Walmart no matter HOW bad you need one. (long story involving a ruined engine).
 
Get a friend or two who works on cars! :) They always save me a few bucks!

And collect coupons and get bundle deals. I can go to a shop get a trannie flush, oil change, alignment, tune-up, radiator flush, tire rotation, balance for about 25% late than the cost of those seperately... tack on a $20/off $100 or more and I do okay. Still expensive, but the bundle deals help!
 
You're off to a good start there Jason; I do my own work too and would recommend you try the same for anything you can do, it really saves you a LOT of money.

In addition to the items you have there, you might want to make sure you check the differential fluid level periodically (not sure what you have for a vehicle but you mentioned "truck"). If it's never been changed than now would be a good time to do it; make sure the proper fluid is used of course.

If you want to asses the effectiveness of your engine you can get a compression check done (also easy to do yourself); it will give a good picture on what kind of engine wear is occuring. Change your spark plugs at the same time, but before throwing the old ones away have a good look at them for engine "health" related signs.

Here's a few other items to check on the "off-season":

Tires
Brakes
Air-Filter(s)
Charging System/Battery
Exhaust
 
Hi,

Something i havnt seen mentioned yet would also be spark plug wires. I work on a racecar so we usually change them when rotor and cap is changed (if they havnt been already burned in two by the exhaust). But new wires can help on things such as gas miliage and engine performance. Wires can also lessen the chance for detonation, which can be a deadly problem itself for the motor.

with my experience with vehicles you probably will never run out of things to do to them and i also do my own work since it's generally less rigerous to work on my personal vehicle rather than a race car (usually on a time crunch for some things). Anyway, just some more to think of

-Shawn
 
I concur... I've had bad spark plug wires result in some strange and hard to diagnose engine problems, even before they hit their usual replacement mileage. Such as when one wire was sparking out of a crack to the metal spark plug sleeve. Or when the ignition coil wire didn't conduct on rainy days.

Also, while you're dumping money into your vehicle, make sure you're logging the date and mileage for everything that was replaced/repaired/maintained. I sold my rusty crusty old '85 dodge caravan for well above blue book because of a pristine maintenance record available to show the buyer. I keep mine in a text file on my computer with other data such as mainintenance intervals, MPG records, wiper size, sparkplug type, transmission fluid type and capacity, antifreeze capacity, pressure specs for tires (including spare), and various torque specs for such things as lug nuts, valve cover nuts, spark plugs (very important with an aluminum headed engine!), valve locknuts, and oil plug :)

--
James Hammett
 
Woahhhhh there nellie..

Replace the water pump? Are you crazy?

Now if we are to use that logic the pistons should be new along with the crankshaft.They have wear as well.

I have been working on my own cars since I was 16.. Out of all the cars I have owned.. maybe 10 +.. I have only had to replace 2 or 3 waterpumps.. and what a B&%ch they are.

Friendly advice from a shade tree mechanic.. Leave the waterpump alone until or unless its needed. Which more than likely will be never.. Something i noticed was the list of other things you had could all be completed for the same cash yopur throwing into a waterpump that still works fine..

The other things are good maintenance though..

+1 on the plug wires.. that should be easily done yourself.. do the wires one at a time so you dont get them mixed up...

Fred
 
I have been working on my own cars since I was 16.. Out of all the cars I have owned.. maybe 10 +.. I have only had to replace 2 or 3 waterpumps.. and what a B&%ch they are.

Depends on the vehicle I suppose...on hondas it's unwise NOT to replace the water pump when you replace the timing belt. The water pump itself only costs about $40 ( on www.hondaautomotiveparts.com and www.acuraautomotiveparts.org ) and you have to remove the same things from the engine to get to the water pump as you do to get to the timing belt. You can pretty much expect the bearings will start to go bad (squealing) after 100,000 miles.
 
Friendly advice from a shade tree mechanic.. Leave the waterpump alone until or unless its needed.

I was under the impression that he needed to change the water pump because of some problems he was having.. but I might have misread that.

The plug wires is a good addition to the list though; I usually change mine the same time as a cap/rotor change.
 
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Depends on the vehicle I suppose...on hondas it's unwise NOT to replace the water pump when you replace the timing belt. The water pump itself only costs about $40 ( on www.hondaautomotiveparts.com and www.acuraautomotiveparts.org ) and you have to remove the same things from the engine to get to the water pump as you do to get to the timing belt. You can pretty much expect the bearings will start to go bad (squealing) after 100,000 miles.


the head gasket only cost about 50$ should we repalce that too? Its not the cost of the waterpump thats the issue.. its the 3 + hours labor associated with it. Remove all belts pulleys, fan, more times than not the radiator to get to the waterpump and get it out.. they are a NIGHTMARE!..

And contrary to statement they dont just wear out at around 100k. I have 200 + k on Lincoln and the waterpump is just fine.. Same with other vehicles i have owned in the past.. several hundred thousand miles before waterpump issues arise..

Note* there is a check valve on most waterpumps that start dripping when the seals are bad on the bearings.. unless there is overheating issues not associated with thermostat or radiator, bearing noise, or seepage from this check valve then my recommendation that of course is only worth 2c is to leave it alone.. :)

Fred
 
the head gasket only cost about 50$ should we repalce that too? Its not the cost of the waterpump thats the issue.. its the 3 + hours labor associated with it. Remove all belts pulleys, fan, more times than not the radiator to get to the waterpump and get it out.. they are a NIGHTMARE!..

I think you may have missed my point. If you replace the timing belt at 80,000 miles and the bearings go out on the water pump at 100,000, you've done the same $500 worth of labor twice. The timing belt drives the water pump on hondas and many other vehicles so if the bearings freeze up, it could cause the timing belt to slip enough to destroy your valves if you have an interference engine. It's not something you want to mess around with especially on a vehicle you expect to be reliable enough for chasing.

Again, it depends on the vehicle. On my father-in-law's lincoln, the water pump has nothing to do with the timing belt and is an absolute nightmare to replace. In which case I would wholeheartedly agree with you ;)
 
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I will be getting the water pump replaced when I get the timing belt replaced. It's common practice to change the pump out when doing a timing belt job anyway. I changed my plug wires out at 77,000 miles and just got through changing my spark plugs along with the cap and rotor. The clutch job is what's going to eat me up though....anywhere from 800-1000!
 
Change your thermostat, change ALL fluids (including brake fluid flush)
replace the wires if they are @100k (or sooner)

DONT ever wait 100k for spark plug changes because they can cause the coil packs to fail early, and the cost to replace vrs fuel economy doesnt justfy the wait

Water pump/alternator by 100k - 120k would be a real safe bet (not manditory but safe)

New battery every 3 yrs
Good luck! (trans service every 30k)
 
I have a degree in Automotive Technology and do all the work to my vehicles. I'm also really picky about mainenance. Oil change every 3,000 miles with valvoline synthetic, tranny flush with synthetic every year, anitfreeze flush once every two years, K&N air filter gets cleaned every 4 months and spark plugs get changed atleast every 60,000 with Bosch Platimun plus 4 plugs. I'm allways inspecting my brakes, hoses, belts, tie rods and stuff like that. Maintenance is alot cheaper than fixing something when it breaks, and sitting on the side of the road waiting for a tow truck would not be fun. I just did front brakes and 4 new snow tires. Next on the list before the end of the year is belts, plugs and battery. Water pump will be replaced next spring and I'm probably going to do a head gasket within the next year or two. My jeep has 112,000 miles on it and runs perfectly, hope to keep it running for a few hundred thousand more miles. Its a 2001 cherokee and I want to keep it for as long as I can since they don't make them any more and I really like it.
 
Maintenance??

Maintenance is for the weak. Real men drive until something seizes or breaks.
I know this comment is a joke but I'm going to play with it a little.





One chase item that I will need to bring along this year...The good ol box of

kleenexnq1.jpg


I guarantee I will need to give the kleenex to the "real men" that are broken down on the highway because they will surely be whining and crying about the HIGH COST to tow their vehicle 30 miles to the nearest garage for the HIGH COST of repair. :D
 
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How about a promise to stay out of Oakland County? LOL. Seriously though, that sucks... Hopefully you can you start getting things financially on track before the next (hopeful) storm season.

(BTW, it's "senseless")
 
That's the nice feature of this board. Anyone that has posted in the thread and has set their preferences to receive email notifications receives a full copy of the post. So even if someone goes back and deletes their post, everyone that was participating in the thread still got to see it.

Just something to remember for those that might want to backtrack later.
 
So synthetic oil every 3k... sounds like a waste of money to me. They design the synthetic to last a lot longer (5k-15k depending on source). Just my two cents.
 
Yea, 3K sounds like a very short service life for any halfway decent synthetic.

On the other hand, some oil life estimating techniques seem too optimistic. The 'Kublin method suggests a 10K+ interval for my Accord. I'm not quite that brave/cheap!

http://neptune.spacebears.com/cars/stories/mobil1.html has data from an extended oil test. Looking at the numbers, 8~9k seems reasonable, IMO. Anyone aiming for extending their change intervals should periodicaly pop the oil cap and give the valve area a careful look for any sign of sludge buildup. Using a good quality syn oil will probably keep you safe, even if you push things a little. If you see so much as a hint if stuff like this, or this, change the oil immediately!

FWLIW, my Honda gets M1 syn every 7~8K. The oil has started to darken somewhat by ~3.5K (about the time I need to top it off with 1/2 qt.) and gets changed well before becoming black.

Don't skimp on the filter! Good filtration is much more important than the specific oil brand or change interval (within reason).

-Greg
 
Agreeed some people do not realize that the oil can sometimes outlast the filter these days. In a car like my wife's the filter is a cartrige style on the top of the engine (easy access finally!!!). In that case the filter can be changed without changing the oil. Although it can be done I am not really recommending it but make sure to spend that little extra for the filter if you want to go the extra miles on the change. Honestly with the beating that Storm cars take I would rather use a good quality standard oil and change it at 3k miles.

But to each their own. All it comes down to is take care of the car so it can take care of you!
 
When having work done at a mechanic, make sure they DO THE WORK!
Last year before chase season, I paid $65 to get my fuel filter replaced. Later, I found out it hadn't been done.
This year, I had breaks done. I usually expect them to repack the bearings when they do the breaks. My rear bearing went out on me this year and stranded me in Clayton, NM. (You don't want to be stuck there with car trouble.) It cost me $1200 for repairs plus the ridiculous price to rent a van for a week. Thanks to Joel Ewing for driving me to Amarillo to get the rental.
(The van is for sale if anybody wants it) :D
 
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