Is it time?

I took my 1997 Nissan Maxima with 128k miles to the shop today to get the breaks checked out and have a couple of weird noises investigated. A few hours later they called to tell me that it needs $2,720.90 worth of work including new break pads, calipers, and rotors on the front, a new power steering pump, a new outer book and right front axle, and a valve cover gasket, a intake plenum gasket, a new air filter, fuel filter and spark plugs.

Even without the routine maintenance stuff, the breaks and axle repair will be almost $1,200 with after market parts.

1. Does this seem right?

2. Is it time to let my once-reliable car go and invest in a new one? I park on the street in an urban area, and I’m not too excited about spending thousands of dollars on a car to have it sandwiched into a street spot every night.

Brake pads, rotors, air filter, fuel filter and spark pugs are routine maintenance overdue it sounds like, calipers, boot and new front axle is stuff that happens, a 97 I would look at trading it in before sinking that much money into it, that being said what can you get for $4200, 2800 repair plus 1400 trade in. Any Psychics on this site?

$1200 won’t cover the shipping on a new car…Make them PROOVE it needs calipers. If the piston retracts smoothly with no great effort, the calipers are FINE…Ask them to clean the filter screen in the bottom of the PS reservoir and change the fluid…Your pump may become silent again…Call an auto-parts store and ask them what rebuilt half-shafts cost for your car. Maybe you need to find a new shop…

I would definitely get a second opinion on this. Honestly, I don’t see $2700 worth of work here. I doubt you need new calipers, as mentioned by caddyman. They rarely go bad, and I have heard of some shops pushing them as required with brake jobs as “preventive maintenance.” To arrive at $2700, they almost certainly would have had to double dip on the labor. Do you see a lot of labor on every item, including the spark plugs, plenum gasket, and valve cover gaskets? Labor for the plugs and valve cover gaskets should be minimal since they are made easily accessible by the disassembly of the engine to replace the plenum gasket.

Why do they say you need the plenum gasket and valve cover gaskets (your car actually has two valve covers and gaskets)? Are you leaking a significant amount of oil or coolant? Any check engine light? If not, you can probably get away without doing this work. That is fairly significant engine repair and likely a lot of your bill. Some shops will require work like this due to oil seepage, and sell it to you accordingly, as required work.

I had a power steering pump making bad sounds once, Lube Gard power steering additive cured it. Try this or another similar additive first, what do you have to lose?

1997 with 128K, that’s practically new compared to my car. Don’t say “invest” in a new one. Cars are not an investment. No matter what you buy, they keep sucking money out of your bank account. Investements make money for you; cars are a liability not an asset.

This list seems excessive, and I suspect includes things that are not really needed, and the cost seems way too high. I’d drfinitely recommend a visit to a reputable independantly owned and operated shop.

Thank you for all of the advice. I picked up the car today and will probably narrow the work to just the breaks and axle if I don’t sell it. I appreicate the help!

This, this, and this.

Some shops LOVE to claim your calipers are crapped out when all you need is a new set of brake pads. Some shops also love to claim that if one caliper is bad, you have to replace all of them. This is a notorious area to get scammed. Make them prove what they say.

As to the new power steering pump. . .Is it getting harder to turn the steering wheel when the car is stopped? No? Then they’d better show you where the pump is leaking, or they’re lying.

I can’t say as I’ve ever seen destination charges as high as $1200. The fee on my Mazda was $750, and that’s shipping from Japan

 Dealers are no better (or worse) than independent mechanics for almost anything you might need done on your car.  They will almost always charge more per hour and often more for parts and supplies.  They also tend to look at repairs a little different than the independent. 

A dealer may well recommend work that strictly may not be needed, but could be connected to the problem or maybe replace a part when a little repair would fix it ALMOST as good a new.  

There is no need to bring your car to the dealer for any service other than service that is going to be paid for by a recall or original warrantee.  During the warranty period be sure to have all required (as listed in the owner's manual) maintenance done and to document all maintenance work.

I suggest that most people would be better off finding a good independent (Not working for a chain) mechanic. 

Note: Never ever use a quick oil change place. They are fast cheap and very very bad.

That $750 destination charge for your Mazda is ONLY US destination charge. Shipping to the US is part of the cost of the vehicle.