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100K miles service

My 2002 Accord just crossed 105,000 miles. I got a quote for just under $1000 from a Honda dealer for 100K service, timing belt replacement (adjustment?), etc. I have never kept my cars this long, so I am not sure if this work is necessary. I intend to keep this car for another three years (30K miles).

Is this maintenance work necessary? The car runs great, there are no problems with it other than the normal wear and tear.

Open your owner’s manual. It will show you exactly what maintenance work is needed.

Timing belt replacement is critical. The timing belt does not give any warning before it goes and when it goes the whole engine may go. It also happens without warning so you could find yourself with no power an a semi coming on fast or just slowing to a stop in the middle lane of the freeway.

Has the timing belt been replaced?  They generally need to be replaced at about 100,000 miles or X years, which ever comes first. It would appear you are on borrowed time.

 [i] Is this maintenance work necessary?[/i] All maintenance work listed in that owner's manual is needed for anyone who does not want to pay the price.  With proper maintenance, your Accord should have no problems going another 100,000 miles.  

 Now about the  [i] I got a quote for just under $1000 from a Honda dealer. [/i]  

   Dealers are no better (or worse) than independent mechanics for almost anything you might need done on your car.  They will almost always charge more per hour and often more for parts and supplies.  They also tend to look at repairs a little different than the independent. 

A dealer may well recommend work that strictly may not be needed, but could be connected to the problem or maybe replace a part when a little repair would fix it ALMOST as good a new.  

There is no need to bring your car to the dealer for any service other than service that is going to be paid for by a recall or original warrantee.  During the warranty period be sure to have all required (as listed in the owner's manual) maintenance done and to document all maintenance work.

I suggest that most people would be better off finding a good independent (Not working for a chain) mechanic. 

Note: Never ever use a quick oil change place. They are fast cheap and very very bad.

Mr. Meehan has summed it up quite well, but I want to add a few points.

Dealer prices tend to be high, but they also frequently include services that many independents do not include.

For instance, there are still some folks (including mechanics) who believe that brake fluid never has to be changed. Unfortunately, that could be a fatal error.

Since brake fluid is hygroscopic (meaning that it absorbs moisture from the air), after three or more years, your brake fluid can be significantly diluted with water. The result is damage to brake parts–including the very expensive ABS pump–and potential loss of braking power on long downgrades when this diluted brake fluid can actually boil. The boiling fluid results in loss of braking ability. Thus, I change my brake fluid every 3 yrs/30k miles. In reality, most Japanese car makers specify this service, but many independent service facilities will skip this procedure in an effort to keep prices low.

Secondly, in an effort to make their cars appear to be virtually maintenance-free, many car makers have omitted the very vital transmission fluid change. This also needs to be done every 3 yrs/30k miles (whichever comes first). The higher price quote from the dealership very likely includes a trans fluid change. Lower price quotes may skip this service.

Skipping this service will inevitably lead to transmission failure anytime after 90k miles, with trans failure on non-serviced transmissions being fairly common by 120k miles. In case you don’t know the cost of rebuilding/replacing a transmission, let’s just say that it is about 6-8 times higher than the total cost of three trans fluid changes at 30k, 60k, and 90k miles. You DEFINITELY need to have your trans fluid changed at 105k miles if it was not done at 90k.

Additionally, some independent shops will use generic, Chinese-made “white box” filters when replacing your air filter, fuel filter, oil filter, and transmission filter. These “white box” filters have no manufacturer information on the packaging, and give you no assurance whatsoever that they meet proper filtration standards. In plain English, most “white box” filters are junk–pure and simple.

So–feel free to shop around at indy mechanics regarding price. Be sure to ask for a price comparison using the dealership’s list of service procedures. Otherwise you will be likely to get a lower price estimate that actually includes far less than the dealership includes. Also, ask to see the brand of filters that a shop uses. If you see unmarked white boxes, politely thank them and leave–never to return.

Since an indy shop has much lower overhead than a dealership’s service department, you should be able to get a lower price for the same service procedures than the dealership’s price quote. Just be sure that you are actually comparing “apples with apples”, rather than comparing “apples with oranges”.

Here’s why the timing belt service is necessary:

The engine in your Accord is what’s known as an “interference” engine. This means that if the timing belt were to break (which they do) the pistons and valves inside the engine would collide at very high speed.

Disaster ensues. Very expensive disaster. It makes the cost of a timing belt replacement look like pocket change.

Besides that, the car stops running when the belt breaks, regardless of where you are or how fast you’re going, and it will NOT restart. You will be stranded if the timing belt breaks, and depending on traffic it can be dangerous.

This is why the owner’s manual recommends replacing the timing belt BEFORE it breaks.

This is normal maintenance on these cars, and should not be cause for alarm.

The good news is; after you replace the timing belt you can drive the car another 100K miles, which is a lot less expensive than trading it in three years.

You don’t have to go to a Honda dealer for this, but I recommend a mechanic who’s somewhat familiar with Honda engines. This is not a job for an amateur.

$1000 seems reasonable to me for the 105,000 mile service. I spent about that much for the 60,000 mile service on our 2003 Toyota 4Runner at an indpendent shop. My independent shop isn’t the cheapest place in town, but they do good work and since my wife drives this car, I want to minimize difficulties. The 60,000 mile service included new spark plugs, replace all fluids, new front brake pads, new filters, etc.