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Am I getting ripped off?

I have a 2002 Suzuki Grand Vitara. I was just told that I need an oil pan gasket ($30) but it will cost $560 to replace it as it is difficult to get too. I was also told that my transmission fluid is brown so I need to have a transmission flush protectant kit ($35), with a labor cost of $65. Are these quotes in line and is my car safe to drive in the meantime?

We need more details. Who told you that you need these things? How much oil are you losing? Have you serviced the transmission according to the maintenance schedule all along?

If you’re not leaking much oil (you need to check at every fillup so that you can figure out how much) then I’d skip the gasket, and if that’s the case I question the skill of your mechanic - who told you to do these things? At what kind of shop?

And unless it’s leaking lots of oil, it is safe to drive in the mean time.

Many cars have been brought to me with quick change invoices noting leaks. I have never found a leak on one of the cars that warranted a repair. Can I assume that the oil pan leak was found by a quick change shop? As lion9car mentioned, the amount of oil loss is the determining factor here. As for the transmission, normal service is to drop the pan and replace the filter and re-fill as needed.

The oil pan gasket gets blamed for a lot of oil leaks because the oil runs down the side of the engine and collects on the gasket, then drips from there. Whether you need to address this or not is dependent on how much oil you are loosing between oil changes. If you have to add a quart every 100-200 miles, then you should have someone find the real leak and fix it. If you don’t need to add oil at all between changes, then ignore it.

Transmission flush protectant kit? Never heard of one. Even the mention of something like this makes me suggest that you find an honest mechanic and never go back to this one. A simple drain and refill every 30k miles will keep the transmission working for a long time, though that may cost about the $100 you are being quoted for the “kit”. I’d rather change the fluid on schedule, its a proven strategy.

Before you replace the oil-pan gasket you might try snugging up the bolts that hold the pan on…Do NOT over-tighten them, just good and snug…

“so I need to have a transmission flush protectant kit ($35), with a labor cost of $65.”

No you don’t…You just need to have the oil and filter in the transmission changed…

Well the interesting thing is there was no leaking on my driveway until I brought the car home. It’s a tire center where I have always taken my car for oil changes and tire rotation. A day after I had the oil changed I noticed leaking in my driveway. I’m puzzled that a car would be made that would require 7 hours of labor to replace an oil pan gasket because it’s so hard to access. They also told me that my transmission fluid was brown and should be pink. I’ve had my car serviced every 3000 miles - I’m assuming they checked the transmission fluid - but I also know that old saying about assuming. No lights have come on in the car to indicate it needed service.

It’s common that replacing the oil pan gasket is difficult because it is almost never needed. You’ll need to check your records to see when you last had the transmission fluid replaced, it could well be needed, but I’d find another shop to do it. And you need to go over your owners manual - do not depend on the shop to tell you what is needed and when.

bstarr wrote:
I’ve had my car serviced every 3000 miles - I’m assuming they checked the transmission fluid

That wasn’t the question. Your owner’s manual tells you when to replace the fluid. Have you been doing that as required?

Well, shame on me. I was depending on the people who serviced my car to do what needed to be done at the required time. It’s 9 nine years old - I honestly don’t know if they did or not.

Get another opinion on the pan gasket. Whether it’s needed or not cannot be determined from my perspective.

As to brown transmission fluid changing it would help. However, if you develop transmission problems in the near or distant future do not blame them on the fluid change. Any problems would likely be caused by not changing the fluid regularly and brown fluid is usually a sign of burned fluid and/or friction material. None of that is a good sign.

Don’t count on them to take care of you. They are working to take care of themselves. And I would be very suspicious of the sudden leak from what I read in your 11:01 post, bstarr.

A car may have an oil leak that will not leave one drop on the driveway. Many times it blows back, covers the floor pan, and any oil drops occur at speed. I’ve seen a few cars that had oil blown almost all the way to the rear bumper with not a spot in sight.

If the car is dripping now and was not before the oil change then I would suspect a leaking oil filter or the lack of a drain plug gasket. This needs to inspected without delay, maybe by someone else.

One area in which you are incorrect is when you consider a high labor cost to replace an inexpensive part to be a rip off. There has never a been a car manufactured or that ever will be manufactured that does not have this feature.
Complaints should be addressed to the people who manufacture the cars this way, not the guys who have to fix them.

If the leak is sudden, I’d suspect that they did something wrong during the last oil change. I think you should find a respected local independent mechanic and have him service your car from now on. The oil changes may cost a little more, but you will have a mechanic that gets to know your car and its needs.

Right now, you need a second opinion. don’t tell the second mechanic that you’ve been told you need a pan gasket, just tell him that you have an oil leak since your last oil change.

When something happens right after a recent maintenance, it is easy to blame the previous “mechanic” and often it is due to a mistake, but sometimes it is coincidence. If it turns out to be a stripped oil plug, that would be the last person who changed the oil. If it is the oil plug washer/gasket, it is still kind of their fault because they should have put in a new one, but it is not common to replace the gasket every oil change.

If it is leaking around the oil filter, then the mechanic probably didn’t clean the mating surface properly, but it could also have been a defective gasket. Those gaskets come with the new filter. This is the most likely in my opinion as the oil will drip down onto the pan gasket and make it look like it is leaking instead.

It could also be a totally new leak that has nothing to do with the oil change or the pan gasket, i.e. a leaking sending unit.

I have a 2013 from new, in the manual it says to change transmission fluid at 175.000
Kilometers. That seems like a long time but that is what the engineers say who built the engine.

Automotive engineers design and say a lot of things about cars that are not necessarily beneficial to the life of the car.

There are many WTH were they thinking moments. If a piece of engineering gets overridden by upper level penny pinchers then that is not the engineer’s fault of course.

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