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1999 Camry -- Brakes and Broken Front Exhaust Pipe?

Hi all,

Took my 1999 Camry (160k miles) to a fairly reputable service station here in the Washington DC area. Here’s what they told me:

Front Brake Pads and Rotors Replaced: $160 for parts, $120 for labor

Front exhaust pipe is broken/cracked and leaking water: $330 for parts, $150 for labor.

Two questions: 1) am I getting hosed?; and 2) he made it seem like the exhaust pipe isn’t going to cause damage if I don’t get it fixed, it’s just going to make my engine more inefficient and probably won’t pass state inspections in a few months. Would anyone recommend holding off on that repair and shopping around on the exhaust fix?

No way to know from here if they’re right. Sounds a little high on the brakes. Take it to a reputable muffler shop (preferably not a chain) and see if they agree on the cracked pipe, and what they would charge. You also might want to have the motor mounts checked, that can cause the pipe to crack. I’d fix the pipe, it’s a safety hazard if it’s leaking exhaust at the front of the car.

A leaking exhaust system will allow exhaust gasses to possibly make their way into the passenger compartment, and this can be very dangerous.

Can you hear the exhaust leak? If so, you should have the exhaust system repaired ASAP.

I prefer to pay a reputable mechanic rather than shopping around for the lowest price. The lowest price is not necessarily the best deal.

I don’t think the prices are too bad, expecially considering it’s the DC metro area.

They diagnosed the exhaust problem because I noticed my car suddenly being very loud and throaty on start-up, almost like a diesel engine. I haven’t noticed any other issues except the noise, $330 just seems like a lot of money for parts.

That front pipe is likely the ‘flex pipe’, which is a special part, not just a pipe, so it won’t be cheap. That said, a muffler shop may have a cheaper supplier.

If the pipe is cracked enough so you hear a “loud” motor then there is a significant exhaust leak. This is dangerous especially if you sit in the car idling during traffic jams or parked with the AC on and the windows closed (pretty likely in this hot weather). The shop likely could see you weren’t happy with a high price quote and was good enough to tell you that you can drive the car, and get other prices. However this isn’t a condition you should put off repairing very long. In the mean time you need to drive with your windows open just a bit to assure your safety when operating the car.

The brake job quote doesn’t seem bad if you are living in the Metro DC area. You can shop that around too, but some cheap brake jobs are just that cheap and poorly done.

It really depends on what the mechanic means by “front pipe” as to whether or not it can cause damage. If the crack is too close to the engine (in the header, which he might have called the “front pipe” to avoid having to explain what a header is) then it can damage the valves when you turn the motor off as cold air gets sucked in and hits the hot metal, causing warpage. (This is why you see people at races stuffing a rag into the short exhaust after they turn the car off - to keep the cooler air out until the engine cools down)

If it’s farther down the line, it won’t cause damage, but it’s going to keep getting bigger until one day it will weaken enough to break, and then it’ll be deafening.

Exact same thing happened to me with the exhaust, I have a 1994 camry, at the time it had 140k on it. It did not pass state inspection in VA until I got it fixed, and it also made it run louder and louder over time. I would recommend fixing it, because you’ll probably have to soon.

Thanks for all of the responses. I haven’t noticed any odors or any smoke at all from the car, but it definitely is loud on start-up and in idle. I’ll crack the windows while I shop this around.

I went ahead and told him to do the brakes (rotors and pads) and got him down to $270. Like some others responded, it was a fairly reasonable quote from the research I did. He couldn’t, however, tell me what type of rotors he is using, so I’ll definitely be following up on that when I pick it up.

I got a little more clarification on the exhaust pipe. As someone else mentioned, it is the flex pipe. Seemed high since I called Meineke and they said replacing the flex would cost $289 parts and labor, so I called my place back and they said they are also replacing the catalytic. Now $500 parts and labor for a new flex pipe and catalytic sounds great, but I told them I want to shop around and also talk with them to figure out why they are recommending a new catalytic, as I didn’t think that a new flex pipe required a new cat convert. The guy got a little defensive about the price, telling me to go check the dealer and see how much it is there and that “no one” will beat his price. But the bottom line is there is a bit of a language barrier and he made no mention of the catalytic converter when he first mentioned the exhaust work, so I think I need it spelled out a little more for me.

Thanks again for all the responses. Keep them coming if anyone has any insight or tips. I am pretty clueless when it comes to cars.

Thanks for your input! Did you also have to replace your catalytic converter? For some reason, my shop only mentioned the flex pipe, then when I inquired about the catalytic, they mentioned they are replacing that as well. There’s a language barrier and I’m having a hard time understanding him on the phone, so I’m waiting until I pick up the car from the brake work to talk with him in person. He sure got defensive when I said I wanted to research and shop around! If the $500 includes the converter, though, it seems very reasonable based off of what I’ve seen.

I have a 1999 Camry, and am looking at the Walker Exhaust Catalog and from what I see both under my car and on the exhaust diagram is the flex pipe has a converter in it. So if you replace the flex pipe you are also replacing the catalytic converter. The part at my local Advanced Auto Parts is $301.99.

“Front exhaust pipe is broken/cracked and leaking water: $330 for parts, $150 for labor.”

This has me a little confused, can some one please explain to me how an exhaust pipe on a Camry could leak water. I mean other than condensation.