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1998 toyota corolla needs $3000 repairs

Hi,

My 1998 toyota corolla, with 87,000 miles needs $3000 worth of repairs. The brake lines, fuel line, exhaust systems are rusted.

My brake pedal went all the way to the floor so I had my car towed to the dealer where I have all my maintenance done. When they looked into the problem they said the brake line rusted through and I was losing brake fluid. They said if they try to fix the brake lines they will probably have to fix the fuel lines and lots of other stuff because of rust. I live near Boston MA.

Should I get a second opinion? Where?

Should I pay to have it repaired or should I get a different car. Edmunds.com says a 1998 corolla sedan is worth $2856. What other repairs might I need in the near future? If $3000 in repairs would get me reliable transportation for three or four years without a lot of other maintenance it might be worth it.

Any advice on how to deal with this would be welcome. Should I repair it, get a used car, a new car, lease a car. If I should I get a used car - how old. etc. I would like to have reliable no frills transportation for a little cost as possible.

Also as you can see a 1998 car with 87000 miles means I don’t drive that much and it has rusted out before I got my “money’s worth” so that is likely to happen if I get another car. How do I figure that into my calculations?

I’m in somewhat of a state of shock because I’ve been getting multi-point inspections regularly. The last one was in march this year and they replaced some of the brake parts, but they didn’t warn me this rust problem was coming.

Thanks

First, I would find a reputable independent shop in your area that can do this type of work - the dealer is the most expensive place to have it done, I wouldn’t use them. Next, have it towed to that shop and have them inspect both the items you mentioned, along with the body. If the body is excessively corroded I would try to fix these things. If the body’s OK, I would probably fix these items, and consider it part of the annual upkeep, just all coming due at once. Brake/fuel lines and an exhaust system should not be too much $$, and will be much less $$ than getting a new/used car.

There is rust on all cars in MA, especially those on the road since '98. Just because a brake line is bad somewhere doesn’t mean your fuel lines and exhaust all have to be replaced. If you don’t want to have the car towed to another shop, have the bad section of the brake line replaced. Get the car back on the road and then take it to a couple of shops to have the car evaluated.

Get a second opinion from a reputable independantly owned and operated shop. I find what you’ve been told by the dealer (1) typical of what I’d expect a dealer to say, and (2) highly questionable. Having a rusted line rarely means the entire system needs replacing…along with the entire fuel system and the entire exhaust system.

It’ll be worth the tow to get an honest appraisal.

PS: I’m from NH, so I have a pretty good feel for what’s normal up here.

Is your exhaust system loud? If not, it doesn’t need to be replaced. There is no way on Earth replacing brake and fuel lines should cost that much, or even replacing all of them and the entire exhaust system. Brake and fuel lines are cheap parts and a moderate amount of labor. To replace all of them, you should be looking at a few hundred dollars, definitely not more than 500-600, and they probably all don’t need to be replaced or necessarily even be anywhere near failure.

By the way, the 1998 Toyota Corolla is a very common car, and any halfway decent mechanic has seen dozens of them and knows how to maintain and repair them, so you don’t have to go to the dealer anymore. The dealer is usually the most expensive place to get your car fixed, and frankly many of the guys there probably have never worked on a 1998 Corolla because they are so old! Sometimes they simply overcharge by an outrageous amount, like in your case. Or in the case of a guy I know who took his 1999 Cavalier to the Chevy dealership, which diagnosed it as needing a new fuel pump. They quoted him just over $1,000 to replace it, $700 of which was labor. It took me less than three hours to replace it, including a trip to the nearest auto parts store 20 miles away for some incidentals to finish the job, and it didn’t even solve the problem! Last time him or I take their word for it on a diagnosis!