2003 Ford Explorer Sport Trac - Just got handed estimate invoice for 3k. Not sure what to do

Hi Car Talk, car noob here- need some advice.

I own a 2003 Ford Explorer Sport Trac with 109,500 miles. I just got an oil change + inspection. I’ll admit I was a little (“a lot”) overdue on my maintenance, but the car has been running great so I was a bit surprised to be handed a laundry list of estimated work for a total of $3012.44.

I’ve uploaded the inspection + list of estimated work to imgur here: http://imgur.com/a/Lvb9Q

The yellow highlighted items are what they recommend should be done ASAP, but how much of this is legit? Can I get away with only doing a few of these? Pouring $3k into a car worth maybe $3.5k doesn’t sound like a great idea.


Edit: Thanks in advance!

The new rack is the only hard part. Struts? Very rare for new struts to help ride quality at all. Most are changed for noise issues and almost never solve problem… All other work is changing fluids. 98% sure your car will ride exactly the same after work.

Suspension does squeak quite a bit going over bumps, and overall car has been riding pretty rough. Struts won’t help anything other than the squeaking?

That’s a pretty comprehensive list. Keep it for future reference. It’s always a good idea to keep all the routine maintenance up to date, according to the manuf’ers schedule. But if you need to prioritize, this is how I’d do it.

If it’s more than 3 years since the cooling system was serviced and the coolant replaced, time to do that. Likewise with the transmission (if automatic), but I wouldn’t do a transmission flush, do what’s called a “proper service”, usually that means dropping the pan and replacing the filter and often included re-torqueing the valve body bolts, the filling w/the correct fresh fluid.

Probably ok to defer the following unless there is a specific problem you are aware of with that function.

wheel bearing repack, steering rack, pcv valve (check to see if it rattles), fuel filter, rear diff fluid (unless there is a specific problem, like it is low or unusual noises), power steering flush, brake flush, shock absorbers (but replacing them would probably improve the ride).

I ain’t buyin’ it.
Go to an independently owned and operated shop for a second opinion. There’s a whole lot of stuff like needing new struts because they “feel weak” and a needed “power steering fluid flush” that just don’t sound right.

For the record, this is exactly what I’d expect from a dealer.

If your car steers fine you probably don’t need a rack. I would question the struts also. Almost everything else is just changing fluids. Do not believe all this needs doing on a car you don’t feel a long term commitment to. I would change these fluids myself at about 5 percent of what they are quoting. The right fluids are shown in your manual.

Ya know they are fairly routine maintenance items. I would do the brake flush next time you need brakes. Power steering and coolant and trans fluid, looks like it is time, Differential, check the fluid, may be time, cabin filter ~ do it yourself, shocks, maybe check tire wear for cupping, hood struts if you wish.

Replace the steering rack just due to flushing the power steering fluid? WTH? I’d take this list to a good independent mechanic and get a second opinion on the work and the estimated price. Most of the work needed sounds legit, but the estimated cost and methodology sounds expensive.

Thanks for all the comments.

This wasn’t done through a dealer, but was done at a NAPA auto center. Are those not independently owned?

Consensus seems to be that most of the fluid maintenance is necessary, and that I should take it to another independent shop for a second inspection. What should I expect to pay for coolant, power steering, and trans fluid flush?

Thanks again

NAPA is a chain, but I don’t know how their business model is set up, whether they’re a franchise with each store privately owned or simply a chain all owned by NAPA with managers hired to run them IAW corporate guidelines.

TSMB, about 50/50. My BIL independently owned 2 NAPA stores for about 15 years before selling them. He never had any service bays.

To the OP, your “truck” rides rough because it’s a TRUCK. It is NOT a car.

What the guys here mean by an indepently owned shop is a car repair shop that’s NOT a part of a national chain, and most NAPA stores that have service bays are owned by the national company, and not locally.

Check out the “mechanic’s files” on this website for a reputable shop that’s located as near you as possible, and talk to them about your laundry list.

Thanks DrRocket, I’ll check out the mechanic’s files.

If those things have never been serviced then they’re overdue. The question is your tolerance for that big of an expenditure in one shot.

At a minimum I would say service the transmission and cooling system. As to the struts/shocks that’s difficult to say. Many people become acclimated to a progressively worsening ride over time and never suspect struts or shocks are failing.
They’re 13 years old so it would not surprise me if they’re of dubious ride quality.

You have not mentioned your locale, which can affect prices but some of that seems a bit high to me on the labor charges; especially the transmission service. Maybe that’s the norm in your area.
My suggestion would be to price some of that stuff around before committing to a first estimate situation.

Cooling system service and transmission service should be done. The others look sort of “invented” by an over-eager service writer.

As mentioned, if the car drives straight and steers straight, just keep driving while checking the fluids regularly. NAPA is primarily a PARTS supplier and they want to sell you a lot of parts.