Answer to the Hum, and Questions about Dealer-Recommended Procedures


Well, it turns out that everyone was right re: my previous post about the hum coming from the back of my '99 Camry. The problem is my left rear wheel bearing. They say parts and labor for the wheel bearing cost $630.

Now, the dealership is (of course) telling me I need to fix more than just the wheel bearing. They “recommend” that I

1) Replace the radiator cap because the seal is failing: $23.

2) Replace the valve cover gasket for $157


Perform a valve clearance check (which includes replacing the valve cover gasket) for $354. (They “recommend” this procedure at every 60,000 miles. At just over 143,000 miles, I am due, they say.)


3) Replace the water pump, which is leaking coolant (even though I’ve never noticed any leaks or spots on the ground, and my engine never runs hot ::knocks on wood::slight_smile: AND Replace the timing belt for $577 (I had the timing belt replaced 4 years ago.)

Also, my front passenger-side automatic window works only intermittently, and they estimate repairing the window motor at $541.

Altogether, that’s $1928 to $2125 in repairs. But, of course, these are at dealership prices. The only reason I went to the dealership in the first place is that my usual mechanic, Pepboys, went out of business.

So, my question are these:

1) How much should each of these things actually cost if and when I go to another mechanic?


2) What are the priority levels of each of these? Obviously, the wheel bearing is fairly high, and the window motor is pretty low. But what about everything else? Does any of this sound like they’re just “padding the bill”?


Wait, Don’t tell me… You’re a liberal, right? Don’t be so gullible man! Before you start your car in the morning, take the radiator cap off and look at the rubber seal that is on the inside part of the cap-top. If it is cracked or broken put it back on and drive to the nearest NAPA store and ask for a replacement. The next morning, put the new cap on in place of the old.
Valve cover gasket and valve clearence: back in my younger days I dreamed of having a car I didn’t have to open the hood of everytime I went to start it. My Explorer has 225,000 miles on it, and I’ve only replaced a couple of batteries, 4 sets of tires and oil. What I’m trying to say…If it ain’t broken don’t fix it.
The window motor: play a game with the dealership. Next time you are out of town, stop by a different dealership and tell them the window wont roll down and you don’t know if it is the switch or the motor. Have them fix it AND give you back the old, defective part - but don’t ask them for the defective part until they have finished working on your car and you’ve paid the bill (Make it an “Oh, by the way” situation.). At that point see if they can get that part for you (Make sure it is from your car), and also consider what else they try to up-sell you. Will they have your old part? Will they find the same defects the other shop did?
Lets just make it easier. Just send me your credit card number and I’ll take care of everything for you.


Well, I would get the bearing replaced, and the radiator cap is not a bad idea at that age. The valve clearance check certainly isn’t a bad idea, but I might put it off if the engine wasn’t noisy. Depending on the mileage since your last timing belt change, the belt/pump might be a good idea - but I would look to see about a second opinion. It very well could be leaking without leaving spots on the ground - but I wouldn’t just take their word for it, particularly if the pump was replaced 4 years ago.

But here’s the kicker - I would not pay them to do the wheel bearing or the radiator cap. The cap is absolutely trivial to replace yourself and you can buy the part for $9-10 from Toyota (half that aftermarket). And the bearing? $630 is highway robbery, IMO. A good quality replacement for a rear Camry bearing runs $60-90, and unlike the front, they are bolted in place rather than pressfit. They’re not as easy to replace as I’ve seen on other brands’ bearings that are bolted in, but labor should not exceed 2 hours. Even if they were doing both I think this price is very high.

A valve clearance check at a good independent mechanic I would say should run a little less than that, but the price isn’t absolutely outrageous. The water pump and timing belt (might as well do both when you’re in there) price is about right for a lot of shops I’ve seen, when they aren’t running specials that are clearly massive discounts.


Your Explorer also likely has hydraulic valve lash adjusters. The Camry does not, which means it (unlike the Explorer) will require periodic checks and adjustments to keep it operating in tune. Its a stupid design, IMO, but the 60k check is recommended


All of those items could be perfectly legitimate. The car is over 9 years old and has 140k + miles.
Get a cap from Wal Mart and change that yourself. That’s a priority.
By your own admission the water pump is leaking so that is also a priority. The timing belt should also be changed.

The valve adjustment SHOULD have been checked at the 30k miles mark and approx. every 30k miles after that. Checking this adjustment is an insurance policy against engine damage. Lash adjustment that is too loose will be noisy and can ruin cam lobes, valve lash adjusters, etc. Lash that is too tight will burn valves out in the cylinder head.

Of course, you can continue on ignoring the valve adjustment, leaking water pump, etc. By luck, you’ve made it this far.

I can’t tell you what it will cost elsewhere; there is too much variation in labor rates, parts prices based on where the parts were procured, etc. You’ll just have to price that around. And price the wheel bearing around also; odds are the price quoted can be beaten.


Wow, Beefy Norm. I don’t see anything in my post to indicate that I am gullible–or, for that matter, a liberal or conservative. If anything, the fact that I have my doubts and am asking for others’ opinions shows that I’m not gullible. It shows that I don’t know much about cars, sure. But I freely admit that. After all, if I were an expert, why would I be posting questions on cartalk?

I found your post condescending and, moreover, unhelpful. I’ve looked at your other posts, and they seem mostly condescending, if not antagonizing. Please do not use other people’s questions as a way to make yourself sound and feel superior. Please keep this forum a respectable and congenial environment for all. I will thank you not to answer any more of my posts, including this one.

To everyone else, thank you for your respectable, informative, and helpful replies. :slight_smile:


Of course you’re liberal, you think before you act. You might not know it yet. Change the radiator cap and let them do the engine work. Have somebody else look at the window job, like an auto glass place. This could be the last work you have done on the engine before you hit 200,000 miles. So, is it Hillary or Barack?


without sounding too condescending;

the real problem is that you went to a dealership for repairs.

i just deleted all the long run on sentence regarding repairs you should have. instead:

find a good local mechanic. develop trust, and it should cleave your costs in half.


hehe, I didn’t read that as condescending at all. You’re right. I should have just gone to another mechanic in the first place.

And, pleasedodgevan, I’m leaning towards the the Obama now…
(Man I hope this doesn’t turn into a political post! lol)


obama who?