96 Toyota, $500 repair job, should I go for it? I'm not a car guy, help!

I recently went in for an oil change for my little Toyota. We’re at 252k miles and I wanted to make sure I’d be ok making it to San Diego and back.(I made it, no problem) Before I left the shop the mechanic informed me that I had a few problems I should fix soon. Here goes the list:

  1. The timing belt kit, 2) Water pump, 3) Cam Shaft seal, 4) Crank shaft seal, 5) Tensioner, 6) serpentine belt, 7) Valve cover gasket, 8)Spark plug seal.

Now just like going to the doctor, I’m typically the person who avoids mechanics for the fear of being told that my car needs work. So I’m looking for advice on how to go about this. They want to charge me $500 for all these repairs, which sounds reasonable to me, but I’m not a car guy. Can anyone offer advice? Much appreciated!

What model? Just checked the Gates site and it looks like ALL Toyota models used belts in 96. The $500 quote (in my area) is a good price for that work, unless one model was a PIA to work on. Rocketman

All reasonable work that should be done, and the price sounds fine to me.

All of that stuff is part of a good timing belt change except the serpentine belt which you might as well change when everything is off. Should be more like $800.

I spent 650 in MN for your list last fall. It seems to be a reasonalble price, plus, you probably really need it. Cheaper than blowing your engine and buying a different car.

Thanks so much for replies/advice guys. Really helps.

well, when was the last time the timing belt was changed? If it was less than 90K or so, then it may not need it just yet. Do you know?

You might want to change the waterpump too if you’re changing the timing belt. That would add about $100 to the bill.

It’s a good price, I guess. I own a 95 corolla and just had my valve cover gasket replaced and some other things. It was leaking pretty badly. But it doesn’t need to be replaced if it doesn’t leak.


Both the 1.6L & 1.8L are NON-Interference motors so the engine will not blow up if there is a timing belt failure.

casper wrote:
Just inconvenience

If my car completely died on a highway at 75 MPH surrounded by trucks or in the middle of nowhere on a cold winter night or in a bad neighborhood, I might call that more than an inconvenience.


I edited my post and deleted the “inconvenience” part of it. I totally agree with you and a failed timing belt can even be dangerous.

The point is that there will NOT be any catastrophic engine failure due to the belt breaking as @lion9car mentions because this is not an interference engine

If the shop knows your motor will not suffer damage due to broken timing belt they may not have even bothered talking about it. Sure, they want you to pay for work if you are unsure how old it is. But, a broken belt is just an inconvenience. Unless your in front of a semi.

A belt can fail on a dark, rainy, stormy night in the middle of a busy highway, or in a blizzard, or in a neighborhood not known for safety at 1:00am in the morning, or when you’re bringing your injured child to the hospital or your ill spouse for treatment. Even if the engine is not an interference engine, I would argue that there are more comeplling reasons for a shop that knows a belt is due to mention it than simply the inconvenience of it breaking.

And yup, there’s the semi scenerio too.

Yeah I’m with the same mountainbike on that one. I had a serpentine belt/water pump failure on my way home in a bad neighborhood in Minneapolis. It didn’t take me long to do a temporary fix but its not much fun with money in your pocket, your head down under the hood, and trying to watch your back at the same time. Its always better to choose when and where to have your down time.

When the question comes up, I always think of Bill Cosby’s son. His breakdown was for a different reason, but it brings to point the prudence of not postponing something that one knows will eventually leave one stranded.

All very true concerning if/when the timimg belt breaks. Timing belts have been known to break before the miles/time change interval recommended. There seems to always be an assumption that broken timing belt = damaged engine and it just is not true in all cases.