Could this be right?


I just had my car in to see a mechanic to diagnose the terrible clunk sound I get only when hitting a pothole (front end), and a rattle from the back end when going over speed-bumps. (It’s a 91 Toyota Celica with 245k miles)

1) Replace all four struts. $114.99 per strut + Inst. Strt/cart Med 56.00 per

2) Alignment Serv. $69.99

3) Cart, sensatrac $159.98

4) Inst, strt/cart med $112.00

5) New "Halfshaft $114.99 (rear, one side)

6) Install Drive line $96.00

7) Sway bar links $165.98

8) Sway bar bushings kit $80.00

9) Install suspension control $120.00

*The total estimate (he went for high end) is $1313.49

Is all this recommended when he says there appears to be nothing wrong with the front-end struts, but one of the back ones may(?) be leaking?

The concern I have is that he claims he heard the noise I complained about, without the benefit of test driving it (and actually hitting one of the plentiful potholes in their lot). When I asked if there was any danger in not having any of the work done, he said no and mentioned that I might be able to do some of it with my husband’s help, thus saving some of the cost.

I checked on-line last evening to see if we could do any of the things on that list to reduce our cost for repairs and it seems to me there are a lot of items that must be done at the same time, but worse, I don’t think we could perform any of the repairs listed in our parking lot…too dangerous to put car up on jack stands here.

Can anyone offer us any suggestions about the diagnosis? There are plenty of ways we could spend that kind of money (under the hood) if these items do not need to be top priority.


Am I asking an improper question, or asking my questions improperly? Is questioning this type of work estimate so unusual that I should simply rely on my mechanic’s suggestions?


It looks like most of those things would certainly be due for replacement on a car of this age and mileage. You could probably get away with doing some things and not others, but it would appear he’s being very thorough. Some of these things go in hand with the other. If you install new struts you have to realign the car, etc. If you love the car and want to keep it go ahead-it’ll drive like a new car after all that, but it is a 91 Celica which is becoming an antique, but unfortunately not the collectible kind haha :wink:


Thanks Dave G.! I was so hoping this guy was doing just that, but not crossing the line. And you’re right, my car is definitely not the collectible kind of relic; it’s just got to last me a little longer so I can replace it.

I had the struts replaced about 2 1/2 years ago (front end). The tie-rods are only about five years old and the axle they want to replace was also replaced about five years ago (all by the same mechanic at the same time. I just had no idea they’d all wear out so frequently. (opening wallet, tears streaming)


If you can’t much money for it on the open market, check with one of those “push, pull or drag in” places. You’ll have to be real savvy about when you should tell them what your trade-in is. If this doesn’t work out for you, find a school that might take it off of your hands as a “donation” for a tax write-off for you. Other than schools, there are many other organizations that will take your “donation” for a tax write-off. Just a thought. I would, however, look for a replacement. Whomever you might end donating the car to, ensure that you also give them a copy of the written estimate that your “wrench” gave you. You did get a ‘written estimate’, didn’t you?


Happy to help, but I didn’t know the struts had already been done. Is he using factory Toyota parts or aftermarket stuff? If you only need the car for a little bit longer (under a year) you might pass on the work and drive it into the ground. That $1,300 goes a long way towards a $2,000 down payment on nice “almost new” Toyota of some type. Shocks and struts won’t cause your wheels to fall off when they go bad-although it may sound like they’re going to haha.


Yes, I got a written estimate, profhandy. Investing the $1300 would top out the value, I’m afraid. I love the idea of donating it to a school. Thanks.

Dave G., He is using aftermarket stuff, except the rear sway bar bushings and the sway bar link. I’m relieved that the tires won’t fall off! I’ve pampered this car through her long life and she’s in really good condition (considering mileage) and I know the odds are not in my favor that she’ll keep this up forever, but I am still a little shy of the funds for another gem. Thanks for the info. :slight_smile: I feel a little better about putting pedal to metal and keeping a shovel handy.


Contact your insurance company. They might just cover your meeting with the pothole. Without knowing about your policy, I would guess that they would cover it.


You should take it to a shop for that “cluck going over a pothole”. A bolt, or some such, may be loose. The front struts are too new to need replacing now. A mechanic should definitely test drive the car. If one doesn’t know what’s wrong, how can one fix the problem?


jtsanders, I only carry Liability and Un-Ins./Under-Ins. Coverage so they wont be helping me I’m afraid. Thank you, though. I’ll remember that option for when I purchase a car worthy of full coverage.

Thanks hellokit. I’ve checked for a reputable independent mechanic here on the site and I will take it to one of them and see if they’ll check it over by driving it. I am a little concerned that the mechanic I took it to did not test drive it, yet claimed to have heard the noise (not possible without impacting a pothole). I now realize he may have assumed that the repairs he recommended were necessary based on the mileage of the car rather than inspection.


OK, let’s try another route. Contact the state highway administration and complain (nicely) that you hit a pothole on their road. Maybe they will pay for the damage. After all, their inability to repair it before you hit it implies that they aren’t providing adequate roads for safe travel. I’ve heard that states have covered such damage in the past. And it is a special concern that a pothole got large enough to do significant damage before they could repair it. Even though your insurer will not cover it, they may offer advice on this aspect.