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Old 03-30-2007, 08:32 AM   #1
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Auto Repair Questions

I'm known for a few things around these Warpath parts; I can hit you over the head with mad salary cap info, and I'm a grumpy old fart in the morning.

But one thing I know absolutely squadoosh about is auto repair. So if you got knowledge in this area, hit me over the head with it!

My wife and I own a 2001 Pontiac Grand Am (6 cyl) with 58,000 miles, and a 1999 Toyota Camry (4 cyl) with 88,000 miles.

First question: Your car comes with a maintenance schedule, showing what needs to be done every 5000 miles. I certainly understand that oil changes need to be done every 3000-5000 miles, brake pads need replacing, tires need rotating, belts need replacing, etc. But what else is necessary? Maybe someone can go through this list and tell me what's really needed:

Transmission fluid flush
Brake fluid flush
Power steering fluid flush
Fuel injection system cleansing

Second question: What other tasks are really necessary to perform on your car on a routine basis?

Third question: Are there any tasks that are commonly believed to be necessary, but really aren't needed?

Fourth question: The Pontiac just needed new brake pads and rotors. What causes the rotors to need replacing? Is there a way to avoid this?

Fifth question: If you're someone who does his own car repairs, please don't answer this one. If you take your car to mechanics/dealerships for repair, how often do you experience a repair bill over $300? How often for over $500?

Just trying to learn more and do my best not to get hosed. Thanks guys.
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Old 03-30-2007, 09:19 AM   #2
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Re: Auto Repair Questions

1) Basically the manual tells you everthing you need to know regarding maintenance to the vehicle.........FOREVER. Many "mechanics" and oil change type places try to upsell unnecessary services and products. Don't bite.
Note: Transmission service is periodically required (see manual), but not "flush's" in between

2) Nothing, see manual, and wax (by hand, not the spray on junk) the car at least twice a year to maintain paint. Once is better than nothing, but twice is better. Especially if it stays outdoors

3) Many. Mostly proclaimed by.......hucksters, (and cornerbacks)-see manual

4) A certain amount of abrasion caused by the pad against the rotor in normal stopping is unnavoidable. When the rotor becomes to thin to be considered safe (by loss of metal during this process) it must be replaced. If you did not replace the pads soon enough, overworn pads will damage the rotors prematurely, and thus cause early replacement. There are other things that cause replacement of the rotors, but these are the most common. Make SURE you are dealing with reputable people as this is one to the most commmon auto scams

5) At $100 p/hour labor time for auto repairs, it doesn't take much to get over 3..or $500. Auto manufacturers with increasing efficiency have made cars more difficult to work on, and thus takes more time and..........more$$$$
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Old 03-30-2007, 09:54 AM   #3
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Re: Auto Repair Questions

Routine maintenance:
Tires
Tire rotation
Alignment
Brake pads
Filters
Fluids (make sure they are not low)
Oil change

Flushes:
I worked at an auto shop for a couple years, and we would always peddle flushes. They are easy, and expensive. We'd get commission on them, so everybody was always trying to sell engine flushes and tranny flushes.

Also, it's one of those things that is hard to argue against. I mean, if your brake lights are not broken, it's hard to sell new brake lights to somebody. However, there isn't much argument against flushing -- you can make a case for it every time.

That said, I think they are a waste of money (unless your car has well over 100K miles and has never been flushed). Also, every Toyota that ever came in was a candidate for an engine flush. Toyotas just run dirty, and there is always gunk in the oil filter. However, that doesn't mean that they NEED to be flushed. In fact, they'll run forever despite the fact that they run dirty.

Belts/Hoses:
As for belts and hoses, I generally think that they don't need consideration until after 100K. Also, most, if not all, the belts and hoses are made of the same material. So, when one belt/hose goes the others are probably not too far behind. I don't replace belts and hoses until they break.

Brakes:
Brake rotors usually don't need replacing unless they have suffered damage. Rotors are usually damaged from waiting too long to replace your brake pads. Eventually the pads wear down, and start to damage the rotor. Brake pads usually need replacing every 40K - 60K miles, depending on the vehicle and driving habits. Also, rotors can usually be repaired by "turning" them. The rotors are basically polished to remove any damage on the surface. However, you can't just keep turning rotors. I think they can be turned at least few times, before you need to replace the rotor -- but I'm not sure. Just replace your pads every 40K - 50K miles, and you won't have to worry about the rotors.

Repair cost:
I have been lucky, and I haven't ever had a repair cost more than $200. However, we would regularly have repair bills well over $500 at the auto shop I worked at. We would always try to run the costs up. $1000 was about the average. It is incredibly easy to get a repair bill to $1000, and it is difficult to argue against the repairs when a mechanic is saying you need them.

You most likely need new brake pads, but you should be careful about the rotors. It is possible you don't need new ones, and can just have them turned. It is still possible that you don't even need to have them turned. You can get new pads installed for $100, so that isn't a big deal for a shop. They want to sell you new rotors to make the repair closer to $500, so it is worth their time. Be careful.

I am not a certified mechanic, but I did work at a shop for a couple years. I mostly did oil changes and flushes, but I learned a lot about other stuff. I have been witness to the tactics that mechanics use, and I learned that most of the time they are selling you more than you need. The average bill had more unnecessary stuff than otherwise.
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Old 03-30-2007, 11:04 AM   #4
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Re: Auto Repair Questions

As others have said but most car need the belts changed more often that 100k. Just take a look at them and if they have any cracks replace them. Rotors do wear out and can usually be turned once then need replacing. They get hot and cool down thuse the warp and turning will shave out the warp but it also makes it thinner and will warp quicker the next time. THe biggest thing you can do is change the oil every 3 to 5,000 miles, trans. usually around 70 to 80,000 )look to manual) and top of fluids as needed. I check my cars once a month.
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Old 03-30-2007, 02:18 PM   #5
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Re: Auto Repair Questions

i don't know crap about cars, but get both of mine serviced religiously. i pay about 30.00 for every oil change. i get the tires rotated every 10000 miles. along with an oil change costs about 70.00. i get the works at 30000 miles, which is the flushing, oil change, tires rotated, and everything else checked. and that costs around 300.00. all my vehicles run great, and i almost never have any car problems. hope i helped
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Old 03-30-2007, 02:28 PM   #6
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Re: Auto Repair Questions

There are a lot of unscrupulous mechanics/shops out there. I highly recommend taking your Toyota/Pontiac to their respective dealerships and let them take care of it. Seriously, who wants to take their car in for maintenance only to have nothing done to it? I'll gladly pay the extra $$ for a peace of mind that comes with a dealership. They certainly stand to lose more if they f*ck you over.
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Old 03-30-2007, 03:36 PM   #7
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Re: Auto Repair Questions

Just a few notes...

When you get new break pads, DO NOT get the LIFE TIME WARRENTY pads. They are made to chew down your rotors so then instead of paying $20 - $40 for break pads you are paying $100 -$200 for the rotor plus the $20 - $40 for the pads.

Also, as far as the belts go, usually when they break on you, something that the belt drives(alternator, power steering, water pump, ac pump...) freezes up causing the belt to break. Belts normally dont just break on there own with out help...

Usually I replace my air filter just about every 3rd oil change. And if your car has them dont forget to grease the grease fittings.

As for the bill, the one place I used to work at would charge the same price for labor that the parts cost, no matter the time it took to do the job. For example if your break pads and rotors came to lets say $100, well then he would charge $100 labor, and that is if everything went well. But that guy was a crook.

I agree with GhettoDogAllStars on just about everything he said, and about your break rotors, usually your pads go first, unless you wore your pads too low and they ground into your rotors. Each rotor has a thickness spec. that it can not be less than. The spec. on your 2001 Pontiac Grand Am is 0.972 thousandths of an inch. Your rotor must be discarded at or under this spec. What happens offten is the pad may wear in to the rotor alittle and the shop will basicly resurface the rotor using a lathe to smooth it out but to be sure that they do not go below the 0.972 thousandths of an inch spec.

Break pads usually get about 30k to 40k, rotors usually get much more, unless something dramatic happens. Like your wheel bearing bursts and the bearing gets jammed between the pad and the rotor and wears a massive groove in the rotor. That happened to a dodge ram pickup I had.
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Old 03-30-2007, 04:26 PM   #8
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Re: Auto Repair Questions

I would like to ad. A GOOD mechanic you can TRUST, means EVERYTHING! It isn't easy to find one, but they do exist! they can make a lot of problems go away. Good Luck
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Old 03-30-2007, 04:48 PM   #9
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Re: Auto Repair Questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Redskins8588 View Post
Just a few notes...

When you get new break pads, DO NOT get the LIFE TIME WARRENTY pads. They are made to chew down your rotors so then instead of paying $20 - $40 for break pads you are paying $100 -$200 for the rotor plus the $20 - $40 for the pads.
Tommy: Let's think about this for a sec, Ted, why do they put a guarantee on a box? Hmm, very interesting.

Ted: I'm listening.

Tommy: Here's how I see it. A guy puts a guarantee on the box 'cause he wants you to fell all warm and toasty inside.

Ted: Yeah, makes a man feel good.

Tommy: 'Course it does. Ya think if you leave that box under your pillow at night, the Guarantee Fairy might come by and leave a quarter.

Ted: What's your point?

Tommy: The point is, how do you know the Guarantee Fairy isn't a crazy glue sniffer? "Building model airplanes" says the little fairy, but we're not buying it. Next thing you know, there's money missing off the dresser and your daughter's knocked up, I seen it a hundred times.

Ted: But why do they put a guarantee on the box then?

Tommy: Because they know all they solda ya was a guaranteed piece of shit. That's all it is. Hey, if you want me to take a dump in a box and mark it guaranteed, I will. I got spare time. But for right now, for your sake, for your daughter's sake, ya might wanna think about buying a quality item from me.

Ted: Hmm. Okay, I'll buy from you.

Tommy: Well I... What?
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Old 03-30-2007, 05:38 PM   #10
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Re: Auto Repair Questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Schneed10 View Post
I'm known for a few things around these Warpath parts; I can hit you over the head with mad salary cap info, and I'm a grumpy old fart in the morning.

But one thing I know absolutely squadoosh about is auto repair. So if you got knowledge in this area, hit me over the head with it!

My wife and I own a 2001 Pontiac Grand Am (6 cyl) with 58,000 miles, and a 1999 Toyota Camry (4 cyl) with 88,000 miles.

First question: Your car comes with a maintenance schedule, showing what needs to be done every 5000 miles. I certainly understand that oil changes need to be done every 3000-5000 miles, brake pads need replacing, tires need rotating, belts need replacing, etc. But what else is necessary? Maybe someone can go through this list and tell me what's really needed:

Transmission fluid flush
Brake fluid flush
Power steering fluid flush
Fuel injection system cleansing

Second question: What other tasks are really necessary to perform on your car on a routine basis?

Third question: Are there any tasks that are commonly believed to be necessary, but really aren't needed?

Fourth question: The Pontiac just needed new brake pads and rotors. What causes the rotors to need replacing? Is there a way to avoid this?

Fifth question: If you're someone who does his own car repairs, please don't answer this one. If you take your car to mechanics/dealerships for repair, how often do you experience a repair bill over $300? How often for over $500?

Just trying to learn more and do my best not to get hosed. Thanks guys.

without reading all of the respnoses here, I work in the business, I hav a brother in law who is a technichian for a honda dealer, and know many people around this business...

Your car will come with a manual describing the things you need to do to keep in under warranty. Its fairly simple stuff... change your oil, rotate the rubber, check out your brakes and fluids (simple maintenance stuff)

MOST of what the dealer/shop tells you you need to do is BS. They're just trying to sell you stuff. the more work they do the more money you pay them and the more they make...

I've had service reps tell me my car NEEDED a major service without knowing anything about the car...

Just stay within your scheduled book and take note of the mileage increments things were replaced the first time to gague when they'll need to be replaced again..

ie: serpantine belt gets changed at 90K... change it againg at around 180k even though the book doesn't go that far...

You should be fine... If you can find a PERSON in a shop you can trust keep taking your car to them, but don't turn your keys over to someone you dont trust, even if they work in the same place as the guy you DO trust... I've seen some crazy things happen in the service bays of dealerships and Service makes far more money than sales for a dealership...
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Old 03-30-2007, 05:43 PM   #11
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Re: Auto Repair Questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by saden1 View Post
There are a lot of unscrupulous mechanics/shops out there. I highly recommend taking your Toyota/Pontiac to their respective dealerships and let them take care of it. Seriously, who wants to take their car in for maintenance only to have nothing done to it? I'll gladly pay the extra $$ for a peace of mind that comes with a dealership. They certainly stand to lose more if they f*ck you over.
yeah... I hear you, but you still can't trust everything your dealer's service dept. says...

the service advisors have some of the most stressful jobs out there... they're prone to mistakes and they DO get paid commission on the time they sell for their technicians no matter how much work the car needs. They're alot more likely to actually do the work they say, but they charge you 2 hours of labor to do things that may take 20 mins... then they charge 100 bucks an hour...
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Old 03-30-2007, 07:52 PM   #12
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Re: Auto Repair Questions

I just so happen to be a collision repair technician (body man)at a baltimore area dealership and I can tell that most of the time they really are just trying to take your money.The thing about dealerships is that there is so much overhead that they have to find everyway to squeeze the dollars out of you.They do this by "recomending" needless repairs.Fluid flushing,belt or hose changes,tire rotations and the like are all easy to do and you can charge a lot for it. I dont know of anyone who charges $100 a labor hour for mechanical labor, It is usually around $80.Of wich the technician is lucky to see 40 percent of the labor charged.Another thing is, dont think for a second that the term labor "hour" is in any way a reflection on the actual time it takes to do the job.I think its that way just to confuse people but I dont really Know.

Finding someone you can trust is the most important thing you can do.Im not saying that you should avoid a dealership, but dont go there thinking that everything is going to be all right just because it is a dealership.Like I stated before,Dealerships have more overhead than small independants and therefore are more likley to try to get all they can.On the other hand there are a lot of good people working at dealership and if you trust yours than stick with it.I work for a dealer ship so I cant think there that bad, and frankly I write honest estimates.Then again its much easier for me to justify a repair seeing as all you have to do is look at the car and see that it is f-ed up.

In closing I will tell you a story about one time I went to a tire merchant with my girlfriend at the time.She owned a fairly new cavalier that needed a new tire.So we go to the store and the guy behind the counter looks up here car in the copmuter and tells her that she needs a ZR rated tire that was like $150.The ZR rating means that the tire is safe to up to 140 mph.I told they guy that she didnt need that kind of tire but he just kept on insisting that she had to get the ZR rated tire.After about ten minutes of arguing with the guy I decided to let him in on two little secrects.one,That I was a body man and that I knew exactly what I was talking about and second that those cavaliers have a kill switch that will stop the engine if it goes past 110 mph.He didnt have an answer for me when i asked him why he was trying to sell someone a tire that is rated for 140mph when there car cant even go over 110 mph.

I dont know if anything I have just told you is helpfull but pm me if you have any specific questions.
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Old 03-30-2007, 10:30 PM   #13
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Re: Auto Repair Questions

This is why I love the Warpath (one of the many reasons). Thanks for all the knowledge, guys. VERY helpful.

Another question:

My 1999 Camry (88,000 miles) is having this issue where the temperature needle creeps up, especially in stop & go traffic, or when idling a lot. When I step on the gas, the needle often shifts back down to the middle.

I check the coolant levels, and it's fine. What could be causing this? Is it possible the coolant line isn't circulating the coolant properly?

I can tell you that there aren't any leaks. I have repeatedly checked the coolant level, and it's never any lower.
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Old 03-31-2007, 09:10 AM   #14
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Re: Auto Repair Questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Schneed10 View Post
My 1999 Camry (88,000 miles) is having this issue where the temperature needle creeps up, especially in stop & go traffic, or when idling a lot. When I step on the gas, the needle often shifts back down to the middle.

I check the coolant levels, and it's fine. What could be causing this? Is it possible the coolant line isn't circulating the coolant properly?
It sounds like your thermostat may be sticking or needs replaced. Or maybe your water pump is shot. But I would check my thermostat first, or have that checked first. Thats my guess...
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Old 03-31-2007, 09:37 AM   #15
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Re: Auto Repair Questions

Hey guys what about tires? How long should they last? I get mine rotated every oil change which for me is every 5k or so. Is that too often?
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