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Does this quote sound right?

I own a 2000 Chevy S-10 w Manual transmission, 132k miles, has always run well until I heard a sort of choking sound and feeling when starting it or getting into higher RPMs. Service shop says they need to (1) replace air pump, (2) replace air pump solenoid, (3) give it a tune up, and (4) replace a donut gasket in the exhaust system. They’re quoting me $765 for everything. Does the price sound right?

The better question is, is all that work necessary and will it fix your issue?

I would take it to another shop for a second opinion.

For the tune-up, you can get an idea of what that should cost (new distributor cap, rotor, plug wires, spark plugs) using this estimator:

Is this vehicle subject to emissions testing? If not, there may be other options…

For all that work, the price sounds reasonable to me, but I agree with the others who say the diagnosis sounds sketchy. The air pump, which is really an emissions pump, might be faulty, but on many engines, you can remove it and drive the car without it for a while without hurting the engine or noticing a change in performance, so I doubt it’s the cause. The same goes for the donut gasket on the exhaust system. It might need replacing, but I don’t see how it could cause the issue.

Do you have any good friends or relatives who are good with cars? If so, have that person do the tuneup. With fuel injected vehicles like yours, a tuneup usually consists of replacing the spark plugs and maybe the spark plug wires. Once the tuneup is done, see if it drives better. If it doesn’t, take it to another mechanic for a diagnosis.

I fear this mechanic might just be throwing parts at your problem. Get a second opinion from a good automotive diagnostician.

Choking sound? An exhaust leak, perhaps, since the donut gasket is part of the estimate. Any other issues besides the sound? Is the “Check Engine” light on?

A second opinion is warranted in my opinion.

This is just the opinion of some guy on the web on a slow Friday afternoon…

The price for the work sounds fine but if I were a betting man (which I am) I would guess that after you replace the blown out exhaust donut gasket, the failed air injection solenoid/check valve and air pump (which may have failed because of the bad solenoid allowing exhaust to enter the pump) you will still have low power and then be told you have a plugged catalyst, which was the root cause of the other failures.

Have the exhaust backpressure tested.

I like those older S-10’s. The price quoted for all that work & parts seems very reasonable to me. Hope you can keep it on the road. One idea, ask them if it is possible to just remove the air pump & air pump solenoid for you to take a test drive. If that’s possible, then at least you’ll know beforehand which – if any – of the symptoms is due to those parts being faulty.

A tune up is a good thing provided it is due according to the owner’s manual schedule, or there is a specific reason the mechanic cites that it should be done whether it is on-schedule or not. I’d go with that. I’d be inclined with these symtpoms to make sure it includes new spark plugs, ignition rotor, dist cap, spark plug wires, air filter, and fuel filter replacement.

I don’t know what that donut gasket is for, but if it is creating an exhaust system leak, get that done definitely. Two reasons. One, you don’t want to breath exhaust gas, right? Second, an exhaust leak can very much confuse the ECM about how much gas to inject. The ECM assumes the engine and exhaust are both air-tight systems, and any air leak will confuse the ECM’s air/fuel mixture calculations, and could make the engine perform poorly.

I concur w/ @asemaster that this is sort of looking like it may end up with a new cat recommendation, and best to get to the bottom of that with what is probably an inexpensive back-pressure test now rather than later. You may eventually need a fuel pressure test to fully resolve this, but for now, first things first.

If you did not have a check engine light, then right off the bat, I would discount the air pump and air pump solenoid. These set a check engine light with a P0410 code if they are not working properly, and you would only need one of them, not both, possibly neither as a clogged passageway in the manifold will set the same code.

I second the recommendation for a second opinion.