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Major Service on Camry 2009

I have Camry 2009 with 73400 miles on it. It is in excellent condition. I bought it 15 months back, when it had 63000 miles. Previous owner didn’t gone through Major service which was supposed to be done at 60k. I got it checked at 65000 and 70000 with a mechanic here (who is reliable). I kept changing Oil/filter/rotate tires at every 5000 miles. Bought all 4 new tires when I bought the car at 63000 miles. In between I got it checked with Sears and they said that it is recommended to replace shocks struts after 60k, while my mechanic said that it is running perfectly fine as of now, no need to replace them. Now I have few questions on this :-
1- If I have to go for major service, should I ask mechanic to do Major service or I should ask him to “do this, do this and do this” ? I believe, if I say Major service, he may charge more and if it is authorize dealer or Sears/Pep Boys/etc., even more.
2- In December, I will be going (from Los Angeles) to Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado and will cover 2200 miles in 12 days. Should I go for service before that or after that ?
3- A very question, I can get rental car for 400$ for above trip. Should I rent car or take my own car ? I have AAA card as well. I know it may be personal preference, but what would you prefer ?

$400 for a rental car for almost two weeks, 2200 miles and no per/mile fee? I’d take that deal. Put the miles on the rental car and let them worry about servicing it.

I think folks generally get better results getting their cars repaired and maintained dealing with well-recommended independent shops. Ask friends, co-workers, relatives, fellow church goers who they use. Then just show the shop owner your owner’s manual, the page where all the recommended service is shown, and discuss with them what needs to be done, and what the risks are should you decide to postpone something.

I wouldn’t change the struts just b/c a chain store says to at 60K. You local shop can do an inspection and make a recommendation if the struts need replacement.

I’d take the $400 deal too if there is no mileage charge.

Second, stay away from any chain shops. Iffy lube and other oil change places that are chain stores. Pep Boys, Sears, Aamco transmission , Monroe shock shops, Meineke Transmissions, or any other chain shops in your area.
All these places hire untrained… usually young kids… to do the service. They are the only ones that will do that much work for the little that these places pay. They are trained to do the 8-10 services that the chain wants them to concentrate on and that is all. You could pull into a Iffy lube for your oil change, with another serious problem that would be immediately noticed by a professional elsewhere, and none of the 6 workers at Iffy lube would even give it a thought.
Also, chain shops love to up-sell their other services that they do. You come in for an oil change and they find 3 other things to try to sell you. I had someone tell me that they tried to sell her new brakes even though she just had them done two months earlier.

They may do fine changing the oil for the next 25 people, but on the 26th car they may even forget to tighten the drain plug and you won’t know until you fry your engine because all the oil leaked out. Do you really want to be #26!!!

Stick with an independent mechanic and you will be better off. He is more likely to have a better understanding of all of your car, and can point out foreseeable problems before they get worse.
Also, giving your regular mechanic the routine work, ie; oil changes, tire rotation, tranny fluid and filter changes, new plugs, new shocks etc. etc., you will become a regular client. And the regular client is the one that may get a break at some point. It could be a free tail light, or $200 off a timing belt job.
I worked with a mechanic that if you came in with a burnt out tail light, he’d replace it and say there is no charge and it’s more trouble to write up the work order. He’d send you on your way with a smile. Not a regular… it was at least $25.

@GeorgeSanJose; is spot on about having your mechanic check out the things in your owners manual


I’ll go against the grain

I’d stay away from the rental car. Take your own car on the trip

You know how your car has been maintained

You do NOT know how well the rental car has been maintained. Some rental car companies don’t take great care of their vehicles, because they won’t be keeping them long.

I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer about whether to drive your own car or a rental. Twenty two hundred miles is not much to add to your personal car and is the rough equivalent of about 3 months of driving at your current pace.
The 400 saved from not renting a car would cover your gasoline bill and then some.

A few comments.
Ignore Sears and their 60k miles strut/shock replacement recommendation. In some rare cases it may be needed. Think about it, maybe, at 10 years of age and a 100k miles.
Besides, Sears may not be around much longer. The one here started liquidation sales last week and will be permanently closed by early next year.

I don’t know if you’re in the habit of raising the hood and checking the fluids yourself but that is something you need to learn if not. Always keep that oil level full and do not assume that it will always remain there from one oil change to the next. Check the fluids during the trip just in case.

"Sears may not be around much longer. The one here started liquidation sales last week and will be permanently closed by early next year."

That company is definitely circling the drain at this point, and even when they were in good shape, their advice and their expertise regarding car care was always at least a bit suspect.

I’m not even sure if “Sears” auto centers are run by them anymore.
Last year, when I went to the closest Sears for their “free” battery load test, I found that everything had changed. Instead of–literally–just driving into the battery-testing area of the garage, I was told that I would have to sit in their waiting area for at least 3 hours in order to have a load test done. And, what had formerly been free of charge was now–IIRC–now $19.95. It appeared to me that so much had changed in their auto center that I suspect it is now a concession run by…God only knows who.

Edited to add:
Suspicions confirmed!
Sears apparently began allowing other parties to use the Sears name on auto centers over 4 years ago.

@abhisheks77 - don’t ask them to do a ‘major service’. Go through your owners manual, find out all service items needed (including any you can’t confirm were done by the previous owner), and make a list. I’d add transmission fluid, brake fluid, and coolant changes to the list if they haven’t been done in the last 3 years.

@db4690 I agree completely. Bag the rental car. I got a 30,000 mile car from one of the budget car renters and had to have it swapped out because of a bad front wheel bearing and got another 30,000 car that seemed to have a bad rear wheel bearing. For $400, that seems like the kind of rental you will get.

Never just go into a shop and say you want a “major” service because you’ve just given them a blank check. Find a good independent for regular service and let him suggest repairs that need to be done right away or put off until later. If you have a problem you need to fix, tell the mechanic what the car is doing that you see as a problem (noises, leaks, won’t steer ect). If you TELL him to replace the fuel pump, he likely will, but your problem won’t get fixed. Let the professional diagnose your problem, he (or she) knows better.

Thanks. I appreciate all your great suggestions

I wouldn’t worry about a rental car if it is a major company like Hertz, Avis, or Enterprise or one of their subsidiaries. National and Budget are owned by Enterprise.

Yosemite has it right. Can’t beat a good independent.