Am I paying too much?


My Toyota Camry overheated yesterday, I filled the cooler with water twice but it was leaking. I barely made it into a repair shop, the car was by then making weird sounds. The repair shop tells me that I need a new radiator, water pump and a timing belt, and the cost is $1100. Is this too much? This is not my usual mechanic because I had to just take it into the nearest repair shop, so I’m not sure if this is a bad price.



I find the need for a radiator and water pump at the same time somewhat suspicious. Maybe you should have it towed to your regular shop…But if both the radiator and pump and belt need replacement, $1100 is not TOO bad…


$1100 is a fair price for a new Radiator + Timing Belt + Water Pump.

The questions you should be asking are:

  1. What actually broke on the car? If it was only the radiator, or a hose, or a flange, you can probably get by with only fixing that now.

  2. If you’ve never replaced the water pump and timing belt, and this service is way past due, you should not avoid getting them replaced. In general it’s best to replace the water pump and timing belt together.

  3. It is unlikely (although not impossible) that all 3 need to be replaced at once. If the timing belt/water pump broke, you probably don’t need a new radiator, and vice versa.

If you brought it to an honest mechanic, my guess is that there’s a hole in the radiator. You must get that fixed. I also bet that the timing belt and water pump are way past due for replacement and the mechanic wants to fix that part as well.


How old is your Camry, and how many miles are on the odometer. A leaking radiator does NOT necessarily mean you need a new water pump, and the timing belt has nothing to do with overheating.

What, exactly, caused the overheating problem?

If they are doing a pump and a radiator, make sure they install a new thermostat, too.

The price is not outrageous if the work is necessary, but I question whether all of it is necessary.


The timing belt can have something to do with overheating, if it drives the water pump. If the belt slips, the water pump may not work correctly, and that could explain the ‘weird’ noises the OP heard, but without more detail on the noise, that’s hard to say.


I don’t know what all they found, but my guess is you need a new radiator and that was the cause of the overheating.

If the timing belt is due, and it may well be due, it should be done now and not put off even if you might be able to drive out of there with just the radiator replacement and there would be no apparent problem. However next week the timing belt could break and that could be a much bigger problem than you have now. Don’t put off replacing a timing belt. Note: you can’t look at a timing belt and determine if it is OK. If it has reached it’s rated life replace it.

The water pump just goes along with the best since it is small change to replace with the timing belt and cost a whole lot more to do it next week.


Well, I’m not sure timing belts “slip,” but if they did I suppose you could be correct. My point is that on some Toyota engines the water pump is NOT driven by the timing belt, in which case the timing belt would not be involved in overheating.


You might consider having a compression test and hydrocarbon test performed to check for a leaking head gasket. Engine oil should be checked to see if it is being diluted by coolant.

Continuing to drive an overheating vehicle can blow a head gasket at the least and ruin the entire engine at the worst.

Just a heads up before you spend 1100 dollars and THEN discover you have major engine problems.


Timing belts don’t slip…they break. And if they somehow do slip you’ll know it because the car won’t run well at all.

My question for this whole thing is how they knew the belt was bad. It really has nothing to do with the heating or cooling of the car.


Thanks for all the advice, this is great. I’m glad I’m not paying too much, but it sounds like the timing belt and water pump replacement is somewhat suspicous. This is a 1994 Toyota Camry, and in the four years I have owned this car I have not had the timing belt replaced. It has been driven about 133,000 miles.

The car was running fine until I had been driving for half an hour and saw the steam coming out from under the hood. I let the car cool down, filled the cooler with water, but within 10 minutes of driving the temperature was all the way up and it started to steam again. So I guess there was some sort of leak. I tried one more time to let it cool and filled it up but the same thing happened probably within 5 minutes this time.

The mechanic did ask me if I thought I was going to keep this car since it was an expensive fix, and he did point out that this being 13 years old might only last for another two to five years, but I made the decision to go ahead with the fix since it was running just fine before this incident. I just hope I didn’t damage the engine in some way because I didn’t stop the car right away after it started steaming. I guess in worst case scenario they are messing with me but I will have a new timing belt and the car will run fine for another three to four years : ) or that the car will die next week and I have spent all this money for nothing.


Quote: “it sounds like the timing belt and water pump replacement is somewhat suspicous. This is a 1994 Toyota Camry, and in the four years I have owned this car I have not had the timing belt replaced. It has been driven about 133,000 miles.”

Suspicious? No, it is prudent.

If you will bother to check the factory maintenance schedule that should be sitting in your glove compartment, you will see that the timing belt should have been replaced long ago. Unless you have the previous owner’s service records to verify that it was replaced, then the mechanic who suggested that the belt be replaced is actually doing you a HUGE favor.

And, if you want to do yourself a huge favor, you will familiarize yourself with the maintenance schedule, as adhering to it will actually save you a lot of money in the long run and will help you to avoid mechanical breakdowns in inconvenient locations.



Given that I don’t have the previous owners’ maintanance record then it sounds like I want to be on the safe side and be happy that they are changing the timing belt for me. I guess I could be more serious about my car maintenance knowledge but I do get the oil changed frequently : )