$463 to flush radiator + change hoses? Rip off?


#1

I have a 2007 Kia Optima. My local shop said that I need a coolant flush. They recommend changing upper hose, lower hose and thermostat. $463 for the job. Has anyone ever heard of this kind of price?
I took the car to a backyard mechanic. He said my hoses are fine. He changed the thermostat and coolant and charged me $30 for labor.
My backyard mechanic doesn’t have the diagnostic equipment to do many jobs that the shop does, but I’m wondering if I should permanently steer clear of them?


#2

Not much diagnostic equipment needed for a flush/fill/T-stat and hose change. Really none. That price seems more than a little high for that work if its just coolant, 2 hoses and a T-stat. You can call around and ask other shops what they charge for that type service in your area - and stay away from the chain stores. That little bit of time will tell you very quickly if the first shop sees you as a boat payment.


#3

Seems a bit high. Bigger problem is that the work probably wasn’t needed. I no longer change hoses, my cars stick around for 12-15 years, haven’t had a problem. Why were you asking about cooling system repairs/maintenance in the first place? Was your car overheating?


#4

Thanks so much for replies. This was recommended by the shop as routine maintenance.
They also recommended shocks that my backyard mechanic says I don’t need at all. With parts for shocks plus coolant/hoses/thermostat + a tie rod that I do need replaced, they wanted to charge me $2000 with parts. That’s more than the car is worth.
I guess I’ll stick with the backyard mechanic for most needs except for the one area he has not served me well - check engine issues.


#5

You should do a coolant exchange about every 5 years or 100k miles. Since your vehicle is coming up on its 10th birthday, it was due for its second coolant exchange. If the first exchange was done at 5 years, per the maintenance schedule, then a flush of the system was not necessary and should not have been done. I hope your backyard mechanic just did a drain and fill for your sake.

Hoses and thermostat at 10 years are a good idea. You can now go another 5 years without worrying about the cooling system, although I would replace the radiator cap too. These are the things most likely to fail between 10 and 15 years.

I think the shop you were using was trying to drum up some unnecessary business. Getting a second opinion is always a good idea. Vehicle repair is a business transaction so you should approach it as a business deal.

Your backyard mechanic sounds like he knows his stuff, but without the backing of a shop with major diagnostic equipment and access to a service like all data, he will be limited if you run into a situation that is difficult to diagnose. It might be better for you to find an honest and reputable full service shop, and not the one you were using.


#6

You should be able to find shop better than the one that tried to gouge you. Better to have a shop ready to use for the hard stuff and have the backyard guy for easy stuff.


#7

Your shop took lessons from P.T. Barnum; “a sucker is born every minute”. Last year I had a proper flush done on my 2007 Toyota and with new Toyota Extra Long Life coolant it came to $130.


#8

Alldata shows 3.0 hours of labor to replace the radiator hoses and thermostat on the 4 cylinder Optima.


#9

I absolutely agree, however I would not hesitate to use the backyard guy as a first stop, especially for routine maintenance. If he’s as honest as he sounds he’ll refer you elsewhere for things he can’t handle.

Years ago, for a 13-1/2 year period, I frequented a neighbor/friend/small garage. The owner/operator was an honest, hardworking guy who inherited the shop from his dad. His own background was a toolmaker (a high-end precision machinist, if you will) who had grown up learning cars from his dad. He knew his skills, and he knew his weaknesses, and when I came to him with something outside of his skill set he’d simply tell me and refer me elsewhere. He did great work for me for years. I was working full time as an engineer & manager in the manufacturing industry, and between that, commuting, and trying to raise a family, I never had the time to do my own work. He saved me lots of money and I knew I could drop the car off with peace of mind. That peace of mind alone was the best reason of all to use him.


#10

Thanks so much for sharing your experiences and confirming my suspicions that the shop was trying to gouge me.


#11

My Kia dealership did a 5 year pressure test and coolant drain and fill for $60 while I had breakfast across the street at Denny’s. No muss no fuss and proper disposal of hazardous waste.


#12

I don’t think that’s the proper conclusion here. Nevada above says it is a 3 hour job. Most shops charge around $100 per hour in labor, so that’s $300 to do this job, just in labor Add in the price of the new hoses, new coolant, and the new thermostat, you got to be looking at close to $400 before tax. So while the estimate might be $50 or so too high, it’s not an unreasonable bill at all.

That’s assuming all that work was necessary of course. If your backyard mechanic is able to determine the hoses are fine, and didn’t need to be replaced, and willing to do what must be an hour or more of work (to change the coolant and the thermostat) for $30 labor, well you definitely got a bargain. Good for you. But suggest as good measure to keep an eye on the dash coolant temp gauge , and monitor the coolant level until you are satisfied the backyard fix is a good one.


#13

I didn’t present this right. They want to charge me $463 for labor only. This shop allows me to bring the parts (but they won’t warranty the work). With parts, they wanted to charge around $650.
BTW, their labor rate is $80/hour. So they were saying that this is a 5 1/2 hour job.


#14

Wow. They weren’t trying to “gouge” you, they were trying to fillet, fry, and serve you up for supper!
Congrats for having the good sense to ask around first.


#15

$650? Too much. Good for you for choosing a different mechanic.


#16

I was taught that a hose need to be changed when they bulge or any other signs of wear. I am assuming your backyard mechanic did proper inspection and came to the conclusion that the hoses were fine. That means the other shop tried to sell you something you didn’t need. On top of that, they tried to overcharge you. I would never go back to a shop like that.

Your car is reachng 10 years, so I would inspect the hoses, belts and suspension parts regularly, so you won’t get stranded.

Also, I try to do radiator flush a little more often than what the owner’s manual suggests. It’s pain in the ass to replace one of those. I try to do it every 3 years.