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First time car owner - puzzled - Squeaky, Sluggish, How do I know if I need a water pump?

Hi, So I just bought in June a used 2001 Jetta. About a month ago the car started squeaking whenever I went over bumps - small or large - my boyfriend says I need shocks. Now, I got a quote from a place, and

$64.95 ea. They’re charging $101 - http://www…gine/2016/

$89.95 ea. They’re charging me $124 - http://www…nder/2066/

They’re making around $140 profit just on the parts, assuming they bought retail. They will have paid something closer to $45 and $65 respectively.

Why are they so expensive?

And when I called to schedule, they told me that the dealership from which I had purchased it had it in the system for a new water pump, which they’re telling me I need to have looked at?

And to top it off, a few weeks ago I noticed that the car is sluggish to shift.

This is my first car ever and I honestly know nothing - I know people like me tend to get taken advantage of - and I don’t have the money to waste! Please help!

You’re not being taken advantage of. The prices are in line and without markups a shop will cease to exist.
Wal Mart marks up everything in the store yet no one carps about them.

While I’m not a gambling man at all, I’d bet any amount of cash money that a thorough inspection of this car would reveal a number of things that are needed.
The water pump is only one. Another could be the timing belt, which if neglected and it breaks will leave you with some serious engine damage.

The transmission shifting could be an aged fluid problem or a transmission on the way out. Failure to change the fluid on a regular basis usually leads to the latter.

The car is 9 years old and as is the case with many near decade only vehicles they will need things unless they were religiously maintained by the previous owner(s). Unfortunately, that is seldom ever the case.

When you buy a used car (any used car) without an extremely thorough inspection you run the risk of acquiring someone else’s former headache. Even a thorough inspection is not a guarantee of a problem free car.
Hope that helps and good luck.

For the water pump, I wonder if it’s been leaking. Has the coolant level been going down since you bought the car? (You do check the fluids regularly, I hope.)

For the shifting issue, if you end up at a transmission shop, try to find a good local one versus a chain. We hear frequent stories here about chains that don’t do the right work.

The very first thing you need is a reliable independent mechanic. Dealers (VW in particular) are not the place to go for repairs. Use the Car Talk mechanic finder, it worked for me:

As for the squeeking over bumps, it might be shocks, but it also might be something cheaper, like bushings. A good mechanic will be able to diagnose this. Don’t go to a mechanic and tell him ‘replace my shocks’, ask him to tell you what’s wrong. Unless your boyfriend’s a mechanic, he might well be (expensively) wrong.

Thank you, this is all helpful. I tried the Car Talk mechanic finder, but it only displayed one mechanic within 20 miles, and only 3 reviews at that.

Another question I can’t help but wonder about is whether or not the squeak has been inspected by a shop. Lots of people hear a squeak, clunk, grind, or any other noise when a car goes over a bump and automatically assumes it either needs shocks or an alignment to make the noise go away. Unless your boyfriend is an experienced ASE Certified automotive technician, go ahead and have a shop inspect the noise before you throw a set of shocks at it. Boyfriends and husbands are notoriously wrong about these sort of things. A dried out control arm bushing, sway bar bushing, ball joint, or tie rod end is more likely to make a consistent squeak than shocks. If that is the case, you can use the leftover money you would have spent on the shocks to have a water pump and timing belt/tensioner installed.

The markup on the parts you had quoted is perfectly reasonable. As ok4450 said, without markups at shops, or any other form of commerce, no business would stay afloat. When I was in the auto repair business, I all-too-frequently had to explain to customers why we mark parts up, whenever I’d get the ‘Autozone has these parts cheaper!’ routine. It makes me wonder if the same thing happens to other professionals like plumbers, electricians, and home improvement contractors. I could imagine someone suspiciously asking an electrician why he wants $8 for an outlet the homeowner can get at Lowe’s for $2. Sorry, that’s just a pet peeve of mine.

On a final note, any aging car is going to need some work, and an aging Volkswagen Jetta is not going to be cheap to keep. They are on par with Volvo and Mercedes Benz for cost of repair and maintenance, and also have a less than stellar track record for reliability. I would not recommend a Jetta to anyone for a first car unless they really love the way the car drives (only reason to own a Jetta in my opinion) and don’t mind spending more on repairs over the life of the car.