2002 Ford Taurus SEL Wagon - 100K+ repairs

I bought this used 2002 Ford Taurus SEL Wagon a few months ago and it was running just fine. Took it in for a checkup and they hit me with this long and expensive list of repairs:

Problems that need to be fixed:

Master cylinder (brakes) - $605

Brake flush - $130

Catalyst - $2371

Water pump and front engine replacement - $804

Manifold - $582

Fuel Pump - $729

Fuel filter - $82

Total: $5,303

Do I really need to replace all this? At this point should I just get a new car?

Where did you take the car? This sounds like a dealer price list, and dealers are good at padding things to make a profit.

$2371 for a “catalyst?” Insane. Catalytic converters are expensive, but not that expensive.

Get a second opinion from an independent mechanic, or another mechanic if this was from an independent. It’s hard to believe an 8-year-old car needs all this, but we can’t see the car.

Was the check engine light on when you took the car in? You’re not really giving us much information to work with.

Why did you think it needed a “check up?” How many miles on the car? Are you having any problems with the car?

Give us as much detail as you can. It will help.

You must look gullible and prosperous! Of course you don’t need ALL those things done.

As far as the master cylinder goes; sit in the car and press the brake pedal hard. If you foot goes down past the point where it feels hard, you have a leaking master cylinder, and it should be replaced. This is a safety itme.

Brake flush at this mileage is optional, but $130 for this is highway robbery.

The “catalyst” is probaly the catalytic converter. If you really need one, Midas or any other exhaust shop can put an after market one on for 1/3 the price.

Manifold??? Ask what the problem is and have the “mechanic” show you why you need one. This sounds bogus.

Fuel pump?? if the car was running well why would you need a fuel pump?? This item is a classic “run to failure” item.

Fuel filter? Maybe.

This list and prices look like they were given to you by a hungry dealer shop manager on commission. YOU defintely nedd a 2nd opinion! Other posters will comment on the same vein and insist the quote is in “boat payment” land.

Having said all this, if the car had had little or no maintenance by the previous owner, I can understand it will need some work. If that is the case, Changing the transmission fluid and filter would be number one on my list. Also flushing the cooling system and filling it with new antifreeze.

Ouch, and then some. Are there any particular problems that you’re having with this car and what did you take it in for? And exactly who did you take it to?

Without more info at this point let me add this. They’re charging you 600 bucks for a master cylinder and then want 130 to flush the brake fluid?
Flushing the fluid should be part of the master cylinder job, not an add-on.

To quote King Arthur (as portrayed in that great Monty Python film) “Run Away!! Run Away!!”

As you might be able to tell, if you want people to help you out post the reasons that you brought the car in and anything that it is doing that you think may be a problem (including the check engine light).

Then ask around among people you know for a reputable, local, owner-operated shop.

Sorry for not including all the details. I was in a daze of sticker shock and the estimated costs!

The engine light had been going on and off. It was actually off when we took it in but we wanted to take it in just to be sure. My spouse had detected a slight burning smell the past few days but no changes in the way the car was driving. The car was jiggling slightly when I’d press the brake going at high speed.

We told the mechanic heck no we’re taking the car home to do more research and get a second opinion. Thanks for all your comments so far - very helpful!

And yes, we did take it to the dealer. I figured their estimates were a bit overblown.

And the car was well maintained by the previous owner…

As I said before, take it to an independent mechanic and get another estimate.

The jiggling when braking could be due to warped brake rotors; a.k.a. front brake job.

The burning smell I have no idea as that could be a coolant or oil leak which could be minor. This smell could also be a rich running smell from the exhaust and which may be tied into the Check Engine Light and rough running.

That brake fluid flush along with the master cylinder is what raises a red flag to me.
Do this. Drive the car to a local AutoZone, Checkers, Advance Auto, etc. and have them scan the car for a start. It only takes a few minutes and they will do this for you free.
Post any results back here for discussion.

Keeping in mind I have no details about the problems let me pose a theory. Since you have a bad fuel pump diagnosis, the car has a smell, it runs rough, etc. maybe a fuel pressure regulator is going bad. This is really not that big a deal; especially in comparison to the prices you were quoted.
Get the codes read for a start and we’ll try to see if we can sort this out. My gut feeling is that this car is not nearly as messed up as it’s being portrayed.

Thanks. I’ll be taking it in in a couple days to get it scanned and will post the results here.

So, I’ve learned my lesson to never take a used car to a dealer service department. When we went to go pick up my car. Now they said our car wasn’t starting, probably as a result of the fuel pump needing to be replaced. We said fine, we’ll tow our car home. They said, oh we don’t have the paperwork done it will take an hour, we couldn’t wait that long and said we had to leave. On the way out we ran into the mechanic who looked at our car. This is where we really got mad:

  1. he basically said we should trade our car in and if we could get 2G for it we would be lucky (i knew this was what they were really after, since they kept commmenting on what great cosmetic condition it was in when we took it in, clearly already calculating how much they’d be able to resell it for)

  2. he said at the very least we should replace our fuel pump, which he said parts and labor should total about $500. when we said we were quoted at $729 he immediately backtracked and said “oh jeez well i know NOTHING about pricing.” yeah right.

  3. THEN, he said he thought that it was strange that we wanted our battery replaced since when he had tested it, it was fine. we told him that the “specialist” had told us that we’d needed a new one. What cheats these people are.

We called that night to speak to someone OTHER than the guy who had been “helping” us. He was clearly surprised that we basically weren’t given our car when we came to pick it up the first time, and we told him we wanted our battery back and the charge taken off our bill. He said he would look into it for us and seemed conscientious. When we picked up our car the next day, our battery had been put back in, the charges removed from our bill so that we only ended up paying for the diagnostic. Then the guy fessed up and said oh basically all you really need is the fuel pump and filter which he had never said before.

Our car is now at a mechanic of a friend who came highly recommended. Looks like we only have to replace our fuel pump and filter for a total of $335. Then they’ll take a look at what’s going on with the jiggly brakes.

I understand that dealerships want to make profits but they really botched this one up in terms of how they actually handled us. We own three fords but I honestly don’t think I ever want to buy one again after this.