Corolla Struts to Tires

I had brought my car into Toyota for an oil change for my 2008 Corolla and when I got out of there they had told me that I needed over $2,000 worth of repairs to my car. Two of these repairs (and most expensive) were all 4 tire replacement and front strut replacement. They said that my struts were leaking and my tires really need to be replaced before the first snow fall. Now I don’t have all this money to throw at my car but I really don’t feel like driving into a snowy ditch in freezing temperatures because I didn’t do what I was supposed to do. So my question is, can I wait to get new struts for a short while and only get my tires done now? Or is the wear on the tires due to my bad struts not worth it and will cost more in the end? Also, someone told me that it is best to get the struts first because they will mess up my cars alignment. Is this true?

It depends on what, if anything, is wrong with the struts. Are the tires just worn out or is there some irregular wear?

A strut can cause poor tire wear if it is leaking excessively or bent. How many miles are on the car?

At any rate, I imagine a good local independent garage would be able to do 4 quality tires and front struts for half the amount the dealer is quoting. Ask your friends, neighbors, co-workers for a recommendation.

There is about 90K on my car. Do you think that it is cheeper to get the struts online and then find someone to install them?

You might get another opinion or two on this. Sometimes, diagnosing faulty struts leads to subjective opinions. Struts may be good, totally shot, or fall somewhere in the middle. The latter is where opinions vary and a lot could depend on the severity of this leak, or alleged leak.

It’s also unknown to me whether the tires are just worn out from sheer mileage or whether they’re abnormally worn due to a bad strut, or struts.

As to getting parts online because they’re cheaper that can be a gray area and a shop may not want to do this.
The shop will not make any money on parts markup and they have no idea about the quality of the part. If the part is bad from the get-go or fails a month later the customer may become upset and blame the shop if the shop does not provide a re-do free of charge.
The shop should NOT warranty any part that a customer provides nor should they rely on a customer provided diagnosis of any problem.

“Do you think that it is cheeper to get the struts online and then find someone to install them?”

Maybe. By the time you factor in shipping and the wait time to order parts and the chance that something may be wrong with the parts you order, you might not be very much ahead. But check around and see if a shop around you is willing to do that. As for me, if someone wants me to install struts they bring in, I raise the labor charge to compensate for lost profit from parts had I provided them. Here, front struts installed would be $435 plus tax. $135 of that is labor. But if you bring in struts to install, the labor would be $207.00 per my flat rate labor guide.

I have never seen Toyota struts die this early. I think they needed a snowmobile payment.

@kenfenimore I agree that the dealer is using scare tactics to drum up business. We sold our 1994 Nissan Sentra last year still with the original struts. It would be unusual if all 4 of OP’s struts were damaged or worn out with this relatively low mileage.

An independent opinion is needed to assess the exact condition of the struts. If OP put all these miles on at construction sites and back roads, I can believe the dealer.

As I have said before, car maintenance is a business transaction. Use good business practices and you should save your money.

First, if you don’t notice a problem, there is a good chance that you don’t have one. It is possible so the first step is a second opinion. Take it to another shop that offers a courtesy inspection and do not tell them about the other opinion, Just see what they come up with. Then get estimates from several shops, but discard any estimates that are unusually low.

You can check your own tires, its not rocket science. You can check them with a penny or a quarter. The old way was to insert a penny into the tread, Lincoln’s head first and if you can see the top of his head, the tire needs to be replaced. Now a quarter is recommended.

Look at the tire, does the tread depth look to be pretty even across the width of the tire and around the tire. If the tread wear is uneven, then there may be a problem, but it could be as simple as needing an alignment.

Oil on the struts is very suspect. It could have been squirted onto the strut by an unscrupulous mechanic, its an old trick. One simple test is to bounce the corners of the car up and down, when you let go, if the bouncing stops immediately, the strut is good, usually.

I have to say, in my opinion at least, Toyota quality has been slipping the past few years

I’ve seen many relatively young Toyotas with leaking struts . . . some were leaking quite badly

Even if it seems to be doing its job, a strut that is leaking from top to bottom is faulty in any competent technician’s book

And yes, you do the struts, then the alignment. In that order

How does the car drive ? Regardless what the story they give you, if it handles satisfactorily, I would not hesitate to keep driving the car if still handled safely and road comfortably. If you feel you must, take it to a garage for a second opinion. The leaking part is the shock obsorber, if it leaks at all. But again, if there is no degradation of handling, I would not bother. Leaking shocks in the struts should not affect the alignment. When you decide to buy tires, you can have that checked there. Everyone can work on Corollas if they want to stay in business. IMHO, I would start looking elsewhere for alternate service.

Also, under no circumstances would I buy tires from a dealer. There are too many other good deals out there.

I agree with @dagosa about the tires.

Shop around

90k miles probably means u are on 2nd set of tires. What is tire tread depth now?

I don’t recommend driving in snow with a tread depth under 6/32.