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98 Corolla needs 180K checkup ... ballpark estimate for non-dealer mechanic?

My 1998 Corolla is ready for its 180,000 service. From past 30K services at the dealer, I’m guessing they will probably want around $1200.

Anyone have a decent ballpark estimate of what I should expect from a non-dealer?

Charlotte, NC, if that helps.

$419-$591 according to repairpal.com. More if you get the transmission serviced, which you should if you haven’t done it in the last 30-50 thousand miles (assuming it’s an automatic).

More than likely, the service manager on your previous visits recommended numerous non-essential services and you agreed to his suggestions. A non-dealer may do this as well.

Do you have a friend, neighbor, or co-worker who knows something about cars and auto repair? And who is on good terms with his own honest mechanic? Try to find yourself a wingman for your next visit.

Unless those previous 30k services included some repairs, in addition to purely maintenance items, then the OP was royally ripped-off with a bill of $1,200.

Yes, dealers do tend to charge a lot more than indy mechanics, but even most dealerships would charge approximately HALF of the price mentioned by the OP. So, as Shadowfax mentioned, a fair price at an indy shop would be somewhere in the $400-500 range, and at a dealership a typical price would probably be ~$600-700.

A 30k miles service is considered more of a major service but I’m curious as to what the dealer was doing at these intervals that would justify a 1200 dollar charge. That sounds awfully high unless they’re piling on a bunch of things like induction cleaning, coolant flush, windshield wiper fluid flush (sarcasm here), and so on.

FWIW, the '98 Corolla has a timing chain that is supposed to be replaced every 90K, which accounts for a big part of my $1200 guesstimate. I’m basically going by what my 90K service cost.

Your engine is non-interference, AND has a timing chain. The chain does not ever need to be replaced unless it gets damaged. Whoever told you otherwise at 90k miles ripped you off.

Agreed with shadowfax about that bogus timing chain recommendation.
If you ever reach the point where the chain is worn out or damaged because of some outside reason (low oil pressure perhaps) then more than likely the entire engine is on the way out.

Perhaps that bogus recommendation about replacing the timing chain every 90k miles explains the incredibly high cost of some of the OP’s previous service bills. Someone (the OP, or the “service advisor”, or both) has confused a timing chain with a timing belt.

I am being at least somewhat facetious, as the “confused service advisor” was undoubtedly schooled in how to cheat car owners who are not knowledgeable about the difference between a timing chain and a timing belt. If this thread accomplishes nothing else, hopefully the OP will resolve to NEVER return to the facility where he/she was ripped off for unnecessary timing chain replacement.

Thanks all for the replies. I really appreciate the input!