2000 Ford F-150 drivetrain problems. mechanic scare tactics!

my truck recently shredded the serpentine belt and was towed to a AAA approved mechanic who proceeded to fix it but also handed me a stack of estimates for about $2000 worth of repairs: U joint, tie rod, tires, rear differential fluid, and a complete front brake overhaul being the major ones. dont have alot of money and have no discernable “symptoms” except a minor “clunking” somewhere in the back when i go over a speed bump or similar. am getting two new tires asap and am going to a new mechanic this friday to address the possible “clunking” sound. friends in the know tell me this is probably NOT the U joint (which was replaced this past July, but COULD be a tie-rod issue.) have always had great mechanics and have maintained the truck really well up til now…it has 72K on it and i have never had a major issue …any advice on how to approach this new mechanic?
am in a new town and dont have much to go on. want to be safe/not sorry but am leary of getting taken…HELP!!

Many problems can exist with no noticeable symptoms. Whether your truck needs these repairs or not I have no idea but at 12 years of age it’s possible. I will add that your truck has more than 1 U-joint and if the clunking is in the rear that could point to a faulty shock mount, loose exhaust hanger, etc, etc.

Just ask the new guy to check the rear clunk without saying anything about what you were told previously to see if he comes up with the same thing.

I’d call the mechanic back and ask his opinion on how serious your issues are. He could just be noting things he noticed so you know about them and it covers him if something were to happen. If he tells you something is serious and needs attention asap, just have him show you. He may not be trying to steal your money, just simply noting it so you know.

I would get a second opinion. If the new mechanic comes up with the same diagnosis then get your truck repaired. Don’t say anything about the first mechanic.

“AAA approved” means exactly zero.

As noted you should have someone else look the truck over. Since you’re new to the area just start asking around for locally owned, independent shops that have a good reputation.

Did you ask this shop to give the whole truck a once over for issues? If not its the kind of list that comes from a shop that uses any visit as an excuse to sell more services. This is characteristic of corporate chain operations and dealerships. We have no idea what year this truck is because you didn’t say, but at 72K miles anyone could find stuff that ought to be done to it.

I’d also note that if your belt shredded just from age this is a bad sign. If you’re the kind of person that waits for catastrophe before you do any work on it (i.e. like waits for a belt to blow rather than replacing it on a recommended interval) then I’d not be surprised if $2000 was a conservative estimate to bring the truck up to date on needed maintenance and repairs.

I totally agree with cigroller about a AAA rating meaning zero.
About a month ago, one of the local TV stations did one of those evening news blurbs (probably a paid ad actually) about getting your car ready for holiday travel and so on. Their information source was the head of the AAA in OK who of course advised everyone to use a AAA approved shop.

I looked up a few of the AAA approved shops and here’s 2 examples.

  1. In a city where my youngest son lives a quick lube facility located next door to Wal Mart is listed. This facility is known to sell air/fuel filters and not even change them along with doing halfaxx fluid flushes.

  2. Locally here, a large independent shop is listed. Nice facilities, beautiful waiting room, the whole nine yards, along with ASE certified mechanics. (for what that’s worth)
    They push the total BG service off on everyone who walks through the door, no matter the vehicle or mileage.
    Credibility because of this? Zero in my opinion.

Add another vote to get another shop to check the truck. The vast majority of well maintained Ford trucks with less than 100,000 miles and no symptoms would not require a complete overhaul of any part of the brake system. I have serviced Ford pickups and vans that accumulated 400,000 miles and never required a tie rod replacement.

Wow - sounds like his boat or mercedes payment is due or he wants a new one! Check with another mechanic. Check the Mechanic Files and see if there is a reference in there for one in your area. I had a 94 F150 with 230,000 miles on it and did not have the troubles you are listing but I had a trusted mechanic for most of its life. Traded for a new 06 F 150 now has 70K on it and only minor problems.

thanks all- much appreciated. taking truck to car-talk recommended mechanic tomorrow. its a 2000 F-150
work, V6, standard, 2WD. always been VERY well-maintained. spend $800 or so once or twice a year to replace things that look bad-so no-i dont ignore things…had itgone over in September and new U joint put on, new tensioner-got a clean bill of health. short on cash right now but will do what i have to to be safe and keep truck on the road. only 72K miles!

Get a second opinion AND…
He’s probably just covering his liabilities.
Remind him you’re not aiming for showroom condition and to casually discuss the individual issues and their reletive need.

waaay too often in our shop a customer will blame ANY little thing on us because we even touched it !
"you just gave it a tune up and now the steering ( u-joints, transmission, you name it ) is out…it’s all you fault and you owe me a freebie ! "
His liabilies are similar to that, you and your truck are new to him and he is not going to stand for that old game that far too many customers play on mechanics.
. Yah, customers rip off mechanics too .

So he’s covered his bases by telling you everything he sees about your truck.
You tell him you accept that you are informed and will let him know when you’re ready to tackle those other issues.

thanks ken-have two new tires (rear). had all the rear axle service ( resurface brake rotors, wheel barings,rear differentail fluid replaced) at a different mechanic and somehow this cost $847-without the tires.
they’re saying i need $1550 worth of work on front end-both tie rods (inner & outer), idler arm,front rotors
machined, etc. HELP! i need to drive about 1200 miles at the end of the month. these folks charge $108/hr for labor and i dont have that kind of money. im looking for a third estimate-and so far everyone says something different…

ps - the truck drives fine- no problems. but i am now envisioning the steering going and/or the wheels flying off down the road. im willing to put SOME $$$ in-how do i get them to work with me on just what is really essential?

Again, find a reputable shop. Shops that scare owners should be avoided.

Are you feeling pulsations in your brake pedal when you come to a stop? If not, or you did not mention it to the mechanic, and the mechanic wants to resurface the rotors, that is a red flag. Leave that shop and do not return.