1999 Camry Repair -- Am I getting a good price?

Hi all,

Recently swung by a Firestone shop and had the following items recommended for repair:

Replace front brake pads and resurface front rotors: $225 ($70 pads, $155 labor)

Remove and replace both inner and outer left tie rod end: $300 ($220 of labor and $80 for parts)

Replace Valve Cover Gasket: $150 ($60 parts, $90 labor)

Replace oil pan gasket: $400 ($35 for parts, $365 labor !!!)

I guess my question is whether these seem like fair prices. I’ve shopped around a little and one mechanic told me that resurfacing rotors was a waste and to just replace them, quoting me about $250. He told me not to believe Firestone, which got me wondering.

If anyone has any input, I’d greatly appreciate it. Thanks!

How many miles are on your car? I find it hard to believe that you need an oil pan gasket. Are you actively leaving oil spots where the car sits? Does your oil level stay in the safe zone between oil changes?

Chain shops are notorious for listing repairs that you really don’t need to increase their profit margins.

Estimates Look A Little Labor Heavy. I Agree That The Rotors Should Just Be Replaced, But This Is An Example Of Charging More Labor And Less Parts (More Profit !).

Does the tie-rod end replacement include an alignment for $300 ?
Either way, that’s a lot of labor.

Are the valve cover and oil pan gaskets really leaking enough to replace them ? A little seepage is not a big deal and sometimes just tightening screws a little will help.

I’d be leaning toward getting another inspection and possible estimate for the tie-rods w/alignment, and a second opinion on the oil leaks (gaskets) from the “one mechanic” while having the brakes done there.

The brakes and tie-rods, if truely necessary, are safety items.

You don’t want to see how much money you can put into an 11 - 12 year old car.

By the way, what’s wrong with your brakes ?


I’m not a big fan of the chain shops like this, especially Firestone, but the prices could be about right depending on the locale.

You should not wade into these repairs without getting more opinions. I’m also not a big fan of alleged oil pan gasket replacements as this diagnosis is often incorrect.
A leaking crankshaft seal can be misinterpreted as a pan gasket leak (and leakage from a valve cover gasket will run downhill and do the same) maybe the PCV valve should be inspected and replaced if necessary. The PCV can pressure up the crankcase and it’s also an easy, cheap fix if need be.

The mechanic who stated replace the rotors is correct for the most part. A lot depends on the cost of surfacing a rotor, the amount of metal that needs to be removed to clean that rotor up while staying over the Minimum Thickness spec, etc. but often it’s more cost effective to go with new rotors rather than machine the old.

Hope that helps.

Do not return to the Firestone dealer…ever.

$225 is about the going price for a front brake job with new rotors as the “one mechanic” said. And I agree with him that resurfacing rotors is folly. They’ll likely just warp after the resurfacing.

Have the tie rod ends rechecked.

The valve cover gasket and the oil pan gasket are in the list to prevent you from developing any excess deposits in your bank account. In short, the Firestone dealer is just boosting his revenue. If you have excessive seepage from those gaskets, post back and we’ll discuss approaches, such as checking or changing the PCV valve (about $25).

By the way, knowing the year and mileage of the Camry will help us help you. And knowing if it’s a straight 4 or a V6 would help also.

About 155,000 miles on the car, though the engine is newer than that (long story about a botched Wal Mart oil change that blew up the engine…they paid for a new one).

I have not noticed any leaking oil nor have I noticed the level dropping significantly. Then again, I’m clueless about cars. I’m thinking about trying the brake pad and rotor fixes myself…from all that I’ve read, it’s a relatively simple fix.

Thanks for your reply. From the printout I have of the estimate, the tie rod replacement would not include an alignment. I do have a lifetime alignment, balance, rotation plan though on these tires through Firestone, so that should be free regardless. To answer your question, then, the labor should not include the alignment. They are charging $220 in labor for replacing the Left inner and outer tie rod.

I haven’t seen any leaking under the car, but they said they saw some when they looked at it.

The brakes are definitely problematic. I get a slight rumble in the brake pedal when braking hard, especially if going down an incline. They squeak to, but no squealing or grinding…yet. I’m pretty sure they need to be replaced.

Agreed on the money end. I’ve been trying to research online how much money to put into this car before calling it quits. I figure I have a couple thousand to invest in it before looking at buying a new/used one.

Not knowing a lot about your car is fine…that’s why we have mechanics. However, you should know how to check your under hood fluids. It is in your owners manual. Please at least check your oil every 2 weeks.

Thanks a lot for the response. Good to hear the replace vs. resurface confirmed. For $25 more, I’d rather get brand new. I’m going to avoid the oil pan gasket fix until I can get a second opinion.

Good For You To Want To Try A Brake Job, Yourself. Do You Have A Jack, Some Socket Wrenches And Other Hand Tools ? Do You Have A Friend Who Has Done This Who Could Work With You, First Time?


1999 Camry; 156,000 miles; straight 4.

I’ll definitely go to the other mechanic and have him do at least the brake work and check out the other items, thanks for the recommendation.

Another complicating factor is that within the last week and a half, my engine started making a distinctive low, throaty, growl when I start it. It seems to dissipate somewhat when I’m driving, but is noticeable at slow speeds or when in idle, most so when starting it. Almost sounds like a diesel.

From what I’ve researched, this could be a chain tensioner or timing belt issue. It came out of nowhere, but this was my sister’s car before and I’m not sure when she last had these parts replaced. Would have thought Firestone would have checked this on their complete vehicle inspection a month ago. Anyways, I’m not going to drive it anymore unless it is going to a mechanic. If it is the tensioner or timing belt, I’ve read a failure could be much more expensive.

Don’t have the tools but am willing to buy them. Would seem to be a good investment and give me some personal satisfaction. No friend who is handy, but there is a guy in my neighborhood who loves working on cars. He’s seen me replacing headlamps and checking fluids before and come over to talk to me about the car. I don’t believe he is affiliated with a shop, but I’m sure he would be willing to come over for and teach me for a nominal fee.

Tensioners and timing belts are not readily accessible for inspection, so it would not have been checked a month ago. Once one gets to them, it makes far more sense to just chenge them.

The growl could be as simple as an exhaust leak. I suggest you have the shop check that too when you have the other items looked at.

Sounds more like the cost at a BMW or Volvo dealer. Personally, I would steer clear of chain shops and the fact that they’re replacing both tie rods and NOT including a front end alignment tells me that they are incompetent. The price for parts is ludicrous and the loaded labor rate must be around $100 - $125/hr at least.
Get new rotors in any event.

You’d probably do better at a Toyota dealer; at least the quality and thoroughness of work. OR, better yet, a small shop with a proven reputation who cares about their work and would like to see you a happy customer who will come back.