2010 Cary oil film on right front strut

2010 Toyota Camry, 50,500 miles. Had the oil changed at the dealer today as it is almost the same price as other places. I was walking by the garage with my dogs and noticed the mechanic removing the right front tire and then the right rear. I did not want a tire rotation so I was a bit dismayed and looked closer. The mechanic asked if it was my car after he looked in the wheel well with a flash light. After answering yes, he showed me that the right front strut had some oily film on the upper portion of the strut and a small (about the size of two quarters) patch on the bottom portion of the strut. He indicated that he would notify the maintenance rep that he recommended that I get the strut changed. He also indicated that it was “a little seepage”. Not knowing how much a strut replacement could run (I was thinking put it on a lift remove a couple bolts then replace the strut) I was thinking, just replace it now. I was shocked that the rep indicated that it was a full day’s job and both front struts should be replaced. I can see where both struts should probably be replaced on the front for alignment. The second shock (nof pun intended) was the estimate to do the job of$890. The dealer didn’t have the parts but could get them within a few days so I said I would probably get the job done at my next oil change in 5,000 miles. My questions are: 1. How can I tell if this is something that really needs to be done? I don’t mind doing it if it is needed or will be needed in the near future. 2. Is that a reasonable estimate for for this job? 3. How long can I wait to do this considering it is “a little seepage?” 4. Where is a good place to go to get this done at a reasonable price depending on the answers to the above questions.?

I would take the Camry to a good independent mechanic and get a second opinion. Things underneath the vehicle will get an oily film from the road because of cars and trucks that leak oil. I think the dealership is on a fishing expedition for a possible boat payment.

I agree with Missileman. And I would never, never, ever even drive by this dealer again. The behavior of their shop is abhorrant… and, sadly, becoming more common as honest dollars are becoming harder to come by.

Let us know how you make out. We care.


Google these exact words . . . sorry. I’m unable to post the link directly

T-SB-0145-11 pdf

This bulletin has Toyota’s official criteria for shock/strut replacement . . . and the pictures to go along with it

If nothing else, it might help you to understand why the mechanic recommended replacement. While I can’t see your struts, I suspect the guy was just following the manufacturer’s guidelines

Sorry, but I’m not buyin’ it. IMHO the shop was doing unauthorized exploratory work looking for revenue generation. I’ve seen it way too many times.

I’m not a mechanic but think I agree with db. When you take a car to the dealer, you expect them to give it a full review. Only question is how much oil there was but it sound like it was also below the spring support.

If you check the TSB above you will see that some seepage is normal and that is probably what you have. My '05 Camry had that at 60K miles and the struts are still fine at 110K miles. The cost to do this in an independent shop around LA ($$), is ~$900 for parts and labor, including alignment for all 4 (not 2). It should not take more than 2 hours for someone with proper tools IMHO.

Most struts will have some oily residue and seepage. This is the fluid inside the strut, and a small amount of seepage means a bit of fluid is getting by the seals. This could be normal, but a lot of fluid means a bad strut. In this case it is hard to tell, so a 2nd opinion is in order. Dealers do tend to recommend repairs to keep the car in “tip top” shape, and it does ad revenue to the service dept. I’d perform the bounce test and if both sides of the front stop moving quickly and they seem to need the same force to move the vehicle up and down and stop in the same manner I’d bet you are perfectly save driving on those struts for a lot more miles.

A strut is a shock absorber integrated with the spring which makes it more expensive and time consuming to replace than a regular shock. Struts in modern cars tend to last longer than standard shocks and most good shocks now last for a lot more than 50K miles. My Camry with 170K miles still has the original shocks/struts. I’m thinking of replacing them just to tighten up the ride, but they still do their job as the car doesn’t keep bouncing down the road after a significant bump.

A tiny bit of seepage is to be expected and is nothing to worry about…As long as the struts are functioning properly, drive on…You can give them the bounce test and evaluate their performance yourself…Also know that in many shops including dealerships the mechanics are commission salesmen…

If I take my car in for an oil change, I do NOT expect them to be removing the wheels looking for problems. I expect only the work I’ve authorized. No more, no less. If during the authorized work they notice something, I expect them to notify me and ask if I’d like them to check it out.

Well said @mountainbike . What if they broke the studs or stripped the lug nuts when they replaced the wheels? What if they did not properly install the wheels or torque the lug nuts? This kind of maintenance just opens up a huge can of worms in my opinion.

If I take my car in for an oil change, I do NOT expect them to be removing the wheels looking for problems. I expect only the work I've authorized. No more, no less.

Many years ago I had to have a exhaust gasket replaced on my 90 Pathfinder. So I went to my mechanic and he didn’t have it and recommended going to the dealer because it looked like that was the only place to get it. I took it to the dealer (Team Nissan)…I told them EXACTLY what I wanted done. The service manager comes out an hour later with a list of repairs I should get totally well over $2,000. The list consisted of things like a timing belt (which I replaced less then a week ago). Their reasoning I needed a new timing belt was because they had no record that THEY never changed the belt. That was the last time I was ever in that dealership. I even drove 20 miles past that dealership to buy my next Pathfinder.

I’m with @mountianbike on this. When I hear about a mechanic/dealer doing this…I think they are just trying to find work. And in my case they were making things up. And unfortunately a lot of people would have fallen for it.

Whether there is some seepage is not as important as how the suspension functions. If there is no loss of function, there is no need to change the strut. I rust treat my cars with oil and occasionally some will splatter onto a component. While having my transmission and motor serviced, the techs have said I needed new struts, my cv boot was leaking and I had oil leaks from the motor. So, I asked them to actually inspect the boot, find exactly where the motor was leaking and test the suspension component for function. If they could show it to me, I would let them replace the part. When nothing was found they stopped badgering about it.

When my Acura goes to the dealer for an oil change, I get a long list of items checked and their condition including brakes, tires, struts, battery, wipers, etc. If they find a deficiency they come tell me. It doesn’t get there very often so I don’t mind a second look at everything. Guess if you tell them not to look at anything else and just do an oil change they would do that, but I don’t see what the problem is with a free look-see. And I do believe some owners really do want to be told if there is a problem developing somewhere.

For the record, according to that bulletin, my struts should be replaced, and my car has only 75K

So, according to the manufacturer’s criteria, I’m due for struts

I’ll wait a few years, until the ride becomes objectionable

I fully expect, that if I were to bring my car to a shop, they’d want to sell me a pair of struts

I can see where they’re coming from

Well if your state has an annual safety inspection,they catch some of this stuff,I appreciate being told if something is really defecient,not a just in case-Kevin

California doesn’t have a safety inspection

If they introduced one, it would be a disaster . . . I expect at least 1/4 of the cars would fail

Guess I’ll veer off a bit as usual. :slight_smile:

Many dealers now offer oil change specials with a multi-point inspection as part of it. Does this dealer provide that and does it include tire rotation, brake inspection, etc, as part of their criteria?
Maybe the mechanics there do this as part of the assigned job and have no say in the matter.

It’s stated that some oil leakage is to be considered normal. Just my 2 cents, but gas leakage causing strut oil loss is not normal. If it were normal then all struts would have seepage and the vast majority do not.

That’s not to say that struts won’t ride fine and last many miles in that condition; they will. The only point is that it’s not “normal”.
The same principle applies to A/C systems. If one sees a minor oil blotch due to refrigerant gas leaking slightly on a condenser fitting or around a service port would one consider that normal also? Not in my book.

Exactly like the engine oil consumption standards from the car makers, they also have a vested interest in stating that any oil seepage on a strut is normal. It would cut into the per car warranty budget.

Draw and quarter me; I can take it… :slight_smile:

I can see that there are divergent philosophies on this. I accept that there is no right or wrong, only preference.

OK4450 did bring up one point on which I agree… I responded without asking if this was a promotion of the dealers that included a multipoint inspect and whatever else. If that was the case, I was unfair to the dealer. If not, I stand by my statement. At the same time, I realize now that many out there expect a shop doing an oil change to do a check over of the vehicle. I disagree, but there is no right or wrong here.

I will say this . . .

When I was wrenching at the dealer, the service manager forced us to do free 27-point inspections

Apparently, all the other dealers in the greater area were doing this, and he didn’t want to “lose out” on any possible upsells

If you actually followed everything to the letter, you were out almost an hour

The sole purpose was to drum up business. The service manager straight out said it.

No matter what the car was brought in for, it got a free 27-point inspection

The mechanics were told they had no choice . . . go along with the program or get fired

It often backfired. Some savvy customers declined the additional recommended work, but went to their local independent shop for a second opinion. If the second guy agreed with the dealer’s recommendations, the repairs were often performed . . . at a much lower cost.

I just remembered something amusing . . . One time, after performing the 27-point inspection on a 25 year old roadster, I told the service advisor I wasn’t recommending any additional work. The car was in pristine shape. It literally didn’t need squat. All the maintenace, fluids, etc., were up to date. Everything worked perfectly. The car looked very presentable inside and out. The tires were nearly new, the car drove straight. No alignment needed. The car looked so good, it would put most 5 year old cars to shame.

The service manager came up to me and asked why I wasn’t recommending anything on this old car. I told him we were wasting our time, because the car was in pristine condition. As per his demands, I racked the car. He spent about 5 minutes checking out the car and determined there indeed weren’t any upsells to be had on this car.

He walked away and didn’t apologize for doubting me and/or wasting my time