99 Honda Accord Major Maintanence Issues-- urgent advice sought

I took my car to the dealer because it needed a thorough review. My car has 111,000 miles on it. Instead of giving it the 112,500 review, the dealer told me “based on your history” you need the 90,000 check up. I should have asked, and didn’t, how much it would cost. Gulp. It was close to $600, most of that was labor.

Then they forgot to call me to tell me what they found. I was waiting near the dealer because I thought I would just take her home. When I called the second time, the service manager took my call.

He told me that there were significant issues with my car, which honestly surprised me.

1) Need a new battery (okay, that makes sense. I have no record or recollection of ever replacing the battery)

2) Distributer Sub Assembly has oil leaking in it and needs to be replaced.

3) Valve Cover and Oil Pan Gaskets are leaking oil.

4) Timing belt issues because there is evidence of oil nearby. (specifically they need to replace cams inside the timing belt unit, which they say requires a whole new timing belt)

Shocked! Not only because of how much needs to be done and the costs associated with each item but because in 2007 I had the timing belt replaced, the gaskets replaced, the distributor cap replaced and lots more. But I used an independent shop a friend recommended. It appears that the work I received, or parts, were subpar, especially the timing belt issue.

Now, I don’t know what to do. According to the estimates from the dealer I am looking at $2,000 worth of work to correct the problems.

Since 2006 I have spent $2,000 on major service issues (not including oil changes).

I am supposed to go on a holiday road trip and don’t know what to do. I am going to take the car to another independent shop I found on Car Talk which did my front brakes this morning for another estimate.

I thought Honda’s were low maintenance cars that wouldn’t require significant investments to maintain them. Did I have shoddy work in 2007? Should I use the dealer? What would you do?

PS I have always liked the idea of keeping my honda forever.

First Honda’s have a golden reputation that blinds its buyers. They are better than most cars but by no means maintenance/repair free. Your car is 10 years old so issues crop up like oil leaks.

That is a lot of work and requires a 2nd opinion. I believe the oil is leaking somewhere buy maybe not all those places. If it is leaking on your timing belt it degrades it fast and the timing belt should be changed also.

You can keep a Honda or any car forever, you just need the stomach to pay for the repairs(or “maintenance”).

Thanks Andrew. Should I go back to the place that did all the work in 2007, including the timing belt. Or is that unrealistic since it has been 25 months since that work was done?

How much should I expect to pay for a second opinion?

When you ask a dealer service dept to check you car, they will tell you every little thing they can find. Oil leaks can be a big deal, but a small seapage of oil in some areas can be a matter of tightening up some bolts.

I would recommend taking the car back to the shop that did the timing belt work, and perhaps even another shop if you want yet a third set of eyes on the problem. Depending on where the oil is leaking in or around the distributor could be a problem. Valve covers and oil pan gaskets can be tightened, and if they still leak they are relatively easy to replace. The timing belt issues are suspect, you need some other opinions on that. The battery can be replaced with a WalMart battery at about 1/2 what the dealer charges.

If you compare the dealer 90k service versus the 90k service detailed in the Owner’s Manual, it’s likely the dealer does more services (i.e. profit generators) than is necessary. Which explains the $600 bill.

Before you give the dealer carte blanche to do more work, get a second opinion from an independent shop.

Ed B.

Thanks. I was planning on going to AutoZone for the battery. I’ll check Walmart for sure too.

Do I tell the original shop that the dealer has found all of these issues that are related to the work done 2 years ago? That’s what my concern is. Everything on the Dealer’s list was something that the original shop did.

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions.

That’s why I feel duped. My bro-in-law told me the same thing afterwards. He said that service is the revenue generator in dealers right now so they are looking for things to fix. However, I love my car and feel really bad if it needs this much work.

I’m definitely going for 2nd and maybe 3d opinions today.

I appreciate your response very much. Thx.

You should expect to pay free-$100 for a second opinion. Its a diagnosis. If you are in for other work you usually don’t pay.

Your work is well past warranty and it is really unknown if new problems arose from the shops work or just age. If you trust the shop go back and ask.

I took it back to the place that did the timing belt. They are going to examine it for free and then discuss the situation with me. They agreed that there shouldn’t be oil seeping into or from the timing belt. It turns out that the garage changed ownership shortly after I had the work done. I suspect I had shoddy work done in a garage from which the owners were divesting themselves.

Why is 2 years, 18,0000 miles past warranty for a timing belt? As a lawyer I am on the hook for many more years than that for work I do.

Usually warranty (if any) for repair work is 1yr/12,000 miles even car dealers. Like I said ask and she what transpires.

Given the cars overall age the leak could be the work before or a new issue.

The work performed by a lawyer is not in the same realm as a vehicle and not really comparable.

Regarding spending the money…having an older car usually means that you no longer have a car payment and the trade off on that is occaisonally paying for maintenance and repairs as opposed to $4,000 - $5,000 or more per year. I sometimes have to remind my wife of this when something comes up that is relatively expensive and she complains about it, “We could be paying that much every month”.

Wow. Everybody thanks for your great advice and insight. I took the car back to the place that originally did the work (timing belt et al). The shop is under new ownership and the work was 2 years old BUT they were incredibly gracious and told me they would look over the items the dealer had pointed out. When asked how much. They said they’d give me an estimate if anything was necessary to do. I left.

2 hours later I met with the service manager. He told me:

  1. There may be seepage but there are no leaks for which I should be concerned. At 10 years you have to expect some seepage (which some of you commented about, as did my bro-in-law). Since I have had no signs of engine trouble and there is no evidence of an active leak they said they wouldn’t worry.

  2. the CV Boot, which the dealer had listed as a non-essential repair, was actually of great concern to the mechanics at the shop. Especially since my main purpose for the service was for a winter road trip.

The shop was so professional that they showed me the places on the engine that the dealer had indicated needed repair. I touched each element (other than the inside of the timing belt) and there was slight residue. Like a layer of dust. There were some places that seemed damp but nothing like a leak. I spoke to my bro-in-law and he confirmed that those did not sound like leaks but seepage.

The mechanic suggested that I monitor the oil consumption between now and the next oil change. If it goes down more than 1 quart then explore what the problem could be. Otherwise, not to worry about it.

When they lifted the car to show me the spots on the underbelly and the CV Joint I spotted a nail in the tire.

You might ask why I am telling you about the nail in the tire.

Well, its because I specifically asked the dealer to look for what could be causing a slow leak in my tire as I had not been able to get to the tire store for a flat check. They told me they couldn’t find anything.

OMG… how do you miss a nail. It indicated to me that the technician did not do a very good job checking and took away credibility from everything they told me.

To top off matters, the CV is littler torn in two pieces held together by a small piece of rubber. It needs to be replaced and it’s not a minor issue.

So, right now the original shop is fixing the CV joint and putting a new battery in. I could have saved $40 going to AutoZone but I felt the shop deserved that $40 for being so thoughtful and thorough with me today.

Thanks everybody for your fabulous advice. Have a happy holiday!

First, thanks for posting “the rest of the story.” Very often in this forum people come in, ask questions, get advice, but we never hear how it worked out for them. I know we all like the feedback to know if we’ve given good advice or not. Even though I did not read this thread until now, so had not offered any help, I just had to say thanks for the feedback.

Anyway, with that said, I do have to ask what the dealership did for the $600 “checkup?” What was on the invoice? You said it was mostly labor, but there should be some description of what they supposedly did.

It sounds like you have a good independent, though, so I’d say the extra $40 for the battery is worth it if it helps keep him in business.

I’d agree that a torn CV boot is a more immediate issue than most of the items listed by the dealer service dept. Hard to believe they wouldn’t have seen that, and the nail in the tire also. If you ever need to take the car back to that Honda dealer I would only get done the items you specify. The 90K dealer services, are full of fluff items that aren’t part of the Honda mfg recommendations as per the owner’s manual maintenance guide.

I do go to a Honda dealer at times for my '03 Civic but just when I feel Honda techs have more expertise than a general repair shop and I don’t buy any the XXK service packages. I always review my manual, past reciepts, and have a specific list of the services I want from the dealer.

Are you kidding! Thanks to this forum I knew what to do this morning, and to my bro-in-law for keeping me from leaving my car at the dealer.

I only went to the Dealer because I thought I should for such a big service. Here is what I got for $600:

Replace engine oil and filter
Rotate front and rear tires and adjust pressure (NOTE I had specifically asked for them to do a flat tire check on one tire… they missed the nail. AARGH)
Inspect front and rear brakes (I have had both sets replaced at indie shops in the past 12 months, they were fine)
Adjust parking brake
Inspect steering, supsension and exhaust component
clean battery terminals (my condition is marked BAD)
Top off fluid levels
Road test vehicle upon completion
Reset maintenance indicator (um, it wasn’t on)
lubricate locks, hinges and window run channels

Inspect brake lines and hoses
Insepct brake master cylinder for leaks
Inspect Cooling system (check for damage, leaks, deterioration and proper fan operation)
Inspect fuel lines and connections
Inspect all lights operation
Inspect A/C and heat operation
Inspect Exhaust System
Inspect drive belt

Replace A/C filter and air filter

Replace transmission fluid

Replace Brake Fluid

(oddly it says they were supposed to replace spark plugs and they charged me for them but it is not marked off… don’t worry I’m calling the dealer on it too)

I had to buy new wiper blades (needed them badly) for $40

the other things I bought were:

the 98-99 kit
Bulk Oil
2 elements
s/plg (4, assuming spark plug)
honda brake flush
brake fluid

Parts= $207 and Labor $320!

Now that I know (a) they missed the nail; (b) exagerated the “leak”; and gave me scary advice about the CV Boot… I don’t think the labor charge is justified. I’ve got a call in to the dealer.

Just to give you a little perspective here, we have a 97 Honda Accord with about 155k miles on it. I do almost all the work on it and I haven’t spent anywhere near $2000 in repairs yet. I did let the dealer do the timing belt because Honda engines turn “backwards” compared to other vehicles which make getting the crank bolt off almost impossible without some industrial strength tools.

I think the shop you are dealing with now is superb. If I found someone this good, I might quit doing it myself. You should send them a Christmas card, maybe with a tin of baked goods.

I would not be so capable of doing my own repairs… though maybe I could do as a good of job as the dealer did with me. It turns out the tire that I was complaining about has a slit in the sidewall which the dealer should have caught.

My bro-in-law says its a waste of time but I am going to go after a refund from the dealer for a portion of the labor costs. How can they charge me for something they seemingly didn’t do.

I hope y’all all know how much I appreciate this board. I love my car and I’d actually like to keep her for a long while. That’s the point of a Honda right? :slight_smile:

Cars are low maintenance if you don’t bring them in for a look over. They mean camshaft seals, and when those get changed, there is no sense reinstalling the $20 timing belt. The labor for the belt should be included with the seal replacement. They shouldn’t charge double just for reassembling what they took apart. Ignore the leaks. You can’t make an old beater into a new car without spending.

the work was 2 years old BUT they were incredibly gracious

A repeat customer is as good as gold.
Not only are you pleased, but you’ll likely recommend the shop to friends and relatives…
which is what you should do by going to the “find a mechanic” section of the Car Talk website
and entering this shop in the database of recommended places.

p.s. my recently sold '88 Accord had some seepage after 21 years and 220k miles, but still runs great and never left me stranded.

It sounds like you found a good garage. There’s no need to return to the dealer. Let others buy his new 100-foot yacht. BTW, the biggest motor yacht in the Baltimore harbor belongs to the owner of several auto dealerships in the metro area.