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Older vehicle upkeep?
Old 07-27-2017, 09:00 AM   #1
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Older vehicle upkeep?

I've got a 2006 Toyota Highlander with 138,000 miles. It's always been dealer-serviced. It has had the usual maintenance done (tires rotated, oil changed, filters, timing belt replaced at required interval, etc.) and wear-out items (brakes, wiper blades, tires, etc.) as needed. It still runs well and looks good (except for the minor door dings and bumper scrapes that other cars have bestowed on it.)

The only "failure" was the transmission at 62,000 miles. Toyota replaced that at no charge to me , even though it was past the 60,000 mile warranty period. (Perhaps due to my having complained to the service dept. about hard shifting/slipping earlier).

I also had some water intrusion into the cabin this past winter (there's a whole other thread on that). Luckily, I think my efforts and/or the new windshield (covered under AutoOne's warranty) may have resolved that problem.

So, I took it in to the dealer yesterday for its usual maintenance. They came out with a laundry list of recommendations and my eyes bugged out. Front and rear shocks/struts (in the "yellow" zone per the mechanic, but not in the red zone yet) (~$1000 front and ~$1000 rear), loose heat shield on [? some hose behind the engine] -- loss of this would expose nearby plastic components to high heat and possible melting ( ~$700), leaking steering hose (~$600) and a few other things in the $200- $300 ea. range. The entire list was something in the vicinity of $3500 or more.

BTW, the vehicle still rides very nicely and I've not noticed any of the dipping/swaying that uses to signify bad shock/struts. This may be why it's only rated "yellow" at the moment. The rest of the stuff is not readily observable to me.

I'm holding off on the shock/struts...getting the leaky hose replaced.

So, now I'm wondering what to do at this point with an 11-year old SUV. I know there are several older Highlander owners here -- how have you been handling (or plan to handle) these sorts of major expenses?

And then there's some point of diminishing returns. If I pump ~$3500 into it now...I'll be wondering what are the next big things to fail and when?

I guess I could look for a local garage who knows how to work on Toyotas (to keep the costs down) but I had a bad experience with my 1984 Honda Accord. For it's first 5K oil change, I took it in to one of those neighborhood franchise oil change places. They used the wrong (non Honda-fluid-compatible) fluid to "top off" something...which resulted in a seal failure several years later. A $150 repair to replace a failed $2 part, imho. Since that experience, I've always had the dealer service dept. work on my cars.

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Old 07-27-2017, 09:16 AM   #2
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Since it was always dealer-serviced, I'd ask the service manager to introduce me to their favorite salesman.

That's what I did when faced with a similar situation with my Murano in 2015. The timing couldn't have been better: I was retiring later that month (so not only had excellent credit but as far as the dealership was concerned, a steady paycheck). It was just after the President's Day sales event had been snowed out. There were still piles of snow everywhere, so people weren't car shopping, and my secret weapon, the Unindicted Co-Conspirator, was with me.

We had a nice time picking out a new Rogue at zero percent financing.
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Old 07-27-2017, 09:40 AM   #3
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I recently had to face this problem on a 2010 Honda CRV . The air conditioning system failed and the paint was coming off in large spots . I was looking at two expensive repairs on a car I was not crazy about . After thinking about it for several months I traded the car in while it still had some value . Car dealers really seemed ready to give decent deals so I got over full value for my trade and money off on a new Rav4 . I usually keep my cars much longer but this car had to go .If you love the car ask around for good recommendations of local repair shops . My SO has a high mileage 2002 Dodge Durango that he takes to a local dealer who does excellent work , is honest and does not charge huge amounts .
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Old 07-27-2017, 10:07 AM   #4
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Talk of paint peeling, my class C motorhome got paint peeling off its hood in large chunks. It started out as a small bubble right on its nose, then developed into larger and larger patches. In 2 years, it looked like a Holstein cow.

A research on the Web showed that the problem was common with GM trucks, and it happened with the hood, not with the rest of the body. Seems like the hoods were all produced at the same plant, and they used a bad paint composition for some years.

I normally do not care much about cars and their appearance, but this was so ridiculous. It made the motorhome look so shabby, and I did not want to get chased out by Walmarts if I wanted to park for a night. So, I paid to have it repainted by a local Maaco shop. They did a good job, and charged me only $200 to repaint the hood which I took off the MH and brought in.

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Old 07-27-2017, 10:15 AM   #5
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Find an independently-owned (non-franchise) shop using your friends and friends' friends as referral sources. Tough to do, but you will be better off in the long run. If you want to know who is paying for all that dealer staff, the fancy building, and the nice amenities, look in the mirror. They make very little off of selling new cars. It is the shop that is the money machine.

Short of rebuilding an engine, maintaining a car you are happy with is always going to be cheaper than eating thousands $ in depreciation. OTOH if, like Moemg, you don't like the car then ditch it for that reason.
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Old 07-27-2017, 10:30 AM   #6
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Since it was always dealer-serviced, I'd ask the service manager to introduce me to their favorite salesman.
...
We had a nice time picking out a new Rogue at zero percent financing.
I periodically get letters from Toyota dealers indicating an interest in getting their hands on my gently-used car.

Earlier this week I got a new version of this from my local dealer...saying I'm eligible for top market value on my trade-in AND ALSO to receive Dealership employee pricing ("you pay what we pay and you still receive all factory incentives") with Aug. 5 as a drop-dead deadline. "This is not a gimmick! This is a no hassle, no haggle way to buy a vehicle."

Just for kicks, based on making this post, I just called their automated hotline and, as requested, entered the special letter code on my letter....which just put me through to the same phone receptionist at the dealer with whom I spoke yesterday to set up my service appointment. So much for entering special codes, etc.

Although I just may take a few minutes and look around at the new vehicles in the dealership when I go back to retrieve my vehicle this afternoon.

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Old 07-27-2017, 10:31 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by OldShooter View Post
Find an independently-owned (non-franchise) shop using your friends and friends' friends as referral sources. Tough to do, but you will be better off in the long run. If you want to know who is paying for all that dealer staff, the fancy building, and the nice amenities, look in the mirror. They make very little off of selling new cars. It is the shop that is the money machine.

Short of rebuilding an engine, maintaining a car you are happy with is always going to be cheaper than eating thousands $ in depreciation. OTOH if, like Moemg, you don't like the car then ditch it for that reason.
+1. The service writers at dealerships get a percentage of repairs so they pile it on and at premium prices. $700 to replace a loose heat shield?

At CarTalk.com there is a Mechanics Files with recommended independent shops, in addition to the ole standby, Yelp reviews. I'd find a good one and get second opinions on everything. Speedy oil change places are notorious for shoddy work, but I found one affiliated with a good independent shop and I've had no issues. Dealers also frequently have loss leader oil changes to get you in for the aforementioned pile on of recommended repairs.
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Old 07-27-2017, 10:44 AM   #8
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My Honda Crv did not have any bubbles in the paint just paint coming off in small spots at first and then 5" size spots in areas all over the car . We recently saw a Honda Pilot with the same problem .
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Old 07-27-2017, 10:58 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by OldShooter View Post
Find an independently-owned (non-franchise) shop using your friends and friends' friends as referral sources. Tough to do, but you will be better off in the long run. If you want to know who is paying for all that dealer staff, the fancy building, and the nice amenities, look in the mirror. They make very little off of selling new cars. It is the shop that is the money machine.

Short of rebuilding an engine, maintaining a car you are happy with is always going to be cheaper than eating thousands $ in depreciation. OTOH if, like Moemg, you don't like the car then ditch it for that reason.
I know full-well that I've been paying my share of the "dealership". Of course, I did get some of this back when Toyota covered the cost of my out-of-warranty transmission replacement (which would have run me just under $4000). They were very aware that I'd been bringing my vehicle in for its regular maintenance service consistently.

Other than the transmission (and the weird water leak into the cabin -- possibly from the windshield and/or plugged a/c drain hose), the vehicle has performed flawlessly.

Plus, I've read that these older Highlanders are the #1 (hybrid version, of which 32% are still owned by the original owners) and #3 (gas version = my SUV, 29% are still owned by original owners) vehicles that owners keep 10 years or more. 10 Cars Owners Keep 10 Years Or More | Forbes (#2 is Prius, fwiw.)

I do need a reliable vehicle, as I'm single and it's my only vehicle. I do a fair amount of driving: the Michigan-Florida cannonball run (in 19 hrs.) by myself, plus other trips all over the place. (I also travel a lot by plane, which is why the vehicle mileage isn't as high as it might otherwise be.)

I think I need to start checking around as to who are some of the better locally-owned independent service garages for Toyotas.

omni
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Old 07-27-2017, 11:45 AM   #10
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+1. The service writers at dealerships get a percentage of repairs so they pile it on and at premium prices. $700 to replace a loose heat shield?

At CarTalk.com there is a Mechanics Files with recommended independent shops, in addition to the ole standby, Yelp reviews. I'd find a good one and get second opinions on everything. Speedy oil change places are notorious for shoddy work, but I found one affiliated with a good independent shop and I've had no issues. Dealers also frequently have loss leader oil changes to get you in for the aforementioned pile on of recommended repairs.
Thanks, travelover.

Found a highly-rated one for working on Toyotas 20 miles away using cartalk.com.

I'll be calling them for my next an appointment to get their [2nd?] opinion on the suggested laundry list from the dealer.

I'll have to figure out transportation if they need to keep it overnight. (The dealer always gave me a "free" loaner to drive. I know, I know, I was "paying" for it.)

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Old 07-27-2017, 02:21 PM   #11
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In the past, I've tried to drive my cars forever. I drove my 2004 CRV to 186K miles and my previous 1993 accord to over 160K miles.

After I replaced the old 2004 CRV with a new 2014 CRV, I put all my old maintenance records and depreciation info (based on Kelly Blue Book) into a spreadsheet. To my surprise, I discovered that the annual cost in repairs was greater than even the cost of a car payment. Basically, after about 120K miles (driving about 18K/yr), the depreciation became negligible per year but the maintenance cost increased greatly, essentially keeping the yearly cost of ownership essentially FLAT or the same over the last 7 years I kept the car.

Typically, I would throw in $1-2K in a given year, hoping to have beak for a while. A year or so would go by with out incident, then something random would come up (not including consumables like brakes & tires). The AC went out one year, then mysterious emissions stuff took almost 2 years and over $1K to resolve. The last straw was that the alternator died during a road trip, and DW and I drove home on just the battery, barely making it back to our driveway. Although would have been an easy fix and I loved the old CRV, I just had enough of screwing around.

Oh, I absolutely love my new 2014 CRV. It's much quieter and more comfortable than my old one. We picked it up just before FIRE. Like you, we do long road trips, often in severe weather (hot, cold, stormy) and I just got tired of the hassles and risks of keeping the old car for serious driving. BTW, we are keeping an old Camry as a local (ONLY!) driver since the repair rate hasn't skyrocketed and we are only doing routine maintenance.

In the past, I liked "messing" with cars and driving them into the ground. Now I would rather just enjoy my road trips and spend time dreaming of the next FIRE adventure!
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Old 07-27-2017, 02:29 PM   #12
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Since it was always dealer-serviced, I'd ask the service manager to introduce me to their favorite salesman.
Hahahahah,. I reported on a similar situation in a different thread, here it goes:
i have a 2004 Hyundai XG 350 L, my first new car. 38000 miles, i went in for recall work. they said i need 6000 in repairs,. they scared me so much i had the car towed to my mechanic for the non recall work. the price ? A big FAT ZERO. My mechanic said sure they need to be replaced , but not now. Imagine 6000 for unnecessary work. that was 4 years ago, just got the car inspected, still not ready to replace anything they said.
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Old 07-27-2017, 02:40 PM   #13
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I'm kind of in the same boat with my older highlander. I've got a 2006 Hybrid (bought in June 2005 - so 12 years old). I've got fewer miles - but not by much. It seems like the repairs just seem to keep adding up... but not $3500 worth. On mine it's the boots... Replaced both front boots and the axle after one of the boots tore. Last time I was there (stealership) they tried to tell me that a boot was leaking, but no tears. I declined replacing it right then... DH checked when I got home and saw no sign of leak... He checked again a week later, no sign... and again a week after that - no sign...

But... little things are starting to go wrong. The undercarriage piece (that protects the boots, among other things) started falling apart. I have it tied on with rope - because it disintegrated while I was driving and needed to get it up off the ground so I could get home from picking the kids home from school. The electric window in the passenger back seat died and the dealership wanted $550 to repair it... I put black tape over that controller... fixed. Like you, I have minor dings and scratches - but overall it looks good. But enough little things are going wrong that I'm starting to consider replacing it.
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Old 07-27-2017, 03:01 PM   #14
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I had this same issue four years ago with a 1999 Camry XLE. Mechanic quoted me $2200 to do all needed work. Debated about it since car had 300,000 miles on it. Went ahead and did the work, and drove it full time for another two years. I still have it and drive it on occasion, although it's no longer my primary vehicle.
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Old 07-27-2017, 06:13 PM   #15
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I used to run vehicles until they were junk. But I always had several extra vehicles in case one went down. Perhaps it was cheaper, but I no longer am interested in repairing vehicles. Changing water pumps, alternators, even spark plugs no longer qualifies as a recreational activity for me.

I will typically trade a vehicle when it gets over 100,000 miles. I usually wait until they need a set of tires. DW's car is in line for a trade. We will be replacing it with an Equinox the next time Chev has a decent promotion. It has developed a few worrisome habits such that the low-beams are not reliable. Thus, it is a day-time only grocery-getter or daytime-only traveler. It may be a year until we trade, but DW has already identified what she wants in the next vehicle.
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Old 07-27-2017, 07:38 PM   #16
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I worked for a major car manufacturer for 24 years, and am completely aware of how service departments work.

On my personal vehicles, I never return to any dealership for any reason unless the factory is picking up the bill. While I do basic maintenance myself, I do have a very good independent repair shop that charges $40 per labor hour--less than half that of most dealerships.

And that Toyota service writer (best friends to many housewives) is not your friend. He is a very highly paid commission salesman and his job is to TRY to sell maintenance that's over priced and highly profitable to them. The prices quoted to you are evidence that this person has absolutely no conscience.

$2000 for front and rear struts? You can buy the parts for $85-$95 each and all 4 might take 90 minutes to install. That's a $500 repair.

$600 for a power steering hose? One power steering hose is $65 and another is $50. Either can be replaced in 1/2 hour--or less. That's $100 or so.

Don't think that the rest of the suggested repairs are any less profitable for them. Go find your self a good Indy and tell them what the Toyota dealer tried to do to you. I promise you they won't be surprised.

After an Indy shop goes over your Highlander, I'd take the bill and the dealership's estimate to the dealer principal and see what he has to say. When and if you buy your next car, there are other dealerships out there that may be more honest.
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Old 07-27-2017, 08:53 PM   #17
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I've got a 2006 Toyota Highlander with 138,000 miles.
I just put $4K into my 2005 Highlander to essentially replace the whole suspension. I got some new tires a while ago and they seemed to be out of balance. After many trips to the tire store for high speed balancing and other tweaks, my local shop finally figured out that the suspension was shot, and the symptoms coincidentally showed up about when the tires were replaced. It was a wobble in the front end when turning at highway speed. Ended up damaging the new tires before it was properly diagnosed.

Unfortunately this was when I was still working, so commuting 2 hours a day and no time to research it and get it in the shop. Probably would have been less damage if I was ER and could attend to it!

Anyway, car rides great now - I guess we'll keep it at least a couple of more years. Maybe give it to DS2 when he graduates.
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Old 07-27-2017, 09:11 PM   #18
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If you think your SUV is going to be a problem, put it in Craigslist and count the calls. We live near a major Midwest U. and when I sold my Camry with 135k on it, the phone rang off the hook from students. We got the same reaction selling a Lexus SUV w/125k on it. The buying public considers Toyota's and Lexus vehicles good for 250k plus miles! Might make you reconsider....
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Old 07-27-2017, 10:04 PM   #19
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Bamaman is right on. Stay away from the dealer's service dept and use a good local independent mechanic for things you don't want to do yourself.
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Old 07-28-2017, 12:03 AM   #20
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In the past, I've tried to drive my cars forever. I drove my 2004 CRV to 186K miles and my previous 1993 accord to over 160K miles.

After I replaced the old 2004 CRV with a new 2014 CRV, I put all my old maintenance records and depreciation info (based on Kelly Blue Book) into a spreadsheet. To my surprise, I discovered that the annual cost in repairs was greater than even the cost of a car payment. Basically, after about 120K miles (driving about 18K/yr), the depreciation became negligible per year but the maintenance cost increased greatly, essentially keeping the yearly cost of ownership essentially FLAT or the same over the last 7 years I kept the car.
I've often wondered about that but haven't drove a car into the ground in the last couple decades (leasing on company stipend) and when I did it as a younger lad, did not keep records. How much did it end up costing you per mile and how much per year of ownership? I'm working off a lease right now at 20 cents per mile. I know that's a great deal, but if driving to the ground doesn't get close to that, I'd want to just keep leasing (as company stipend has now gone away).
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