Minor Rant

toyota
camry

#1

So my Toyota Camry has over 160K Miles and the handling was getting real horrible. The rear end was noisy and was bouncing all over bumps. I was a bit on the fence because I knew I need four new struts and not sure if I was going to keep the car. I probably waited too long. Anyway, I found some aftermarket complete assemblies with good reviews and decided to give it a shot. The rears went in fine, and resolved all of the issues back there. After 3 K miles being that I was happy with the quality, I ordered the fronts.

Now here is where the rant starts. As I am getting ready to do the work on the fronts, I am trying to loosen the lug nuts. Turns out, the tire place who put the new front tires on 3-4 weeks ago, managed to strip 6 out of the 10. Now being 430 PM, I tried and re-tightened them and drove very carefully to the store. A polite discussion on why they should fix it now (they are open until 7 PM) was not going very well. I was getting all sorts of excuses. I reminded them that on the same day, they gave me an estimate of $1100 for the struts and they said they can do it in an hour. So reminding them of that, I said you should be able to get the studs and replace them and the car is not safe to be driven like this. Finally when I told them I need a loaner car if they are not gong to fix it they agreed to fix it. When they were taking the lugs out, they decided to change all 10 (apparently the other 4 were not so good either).

On second thought, I had noticed some vibration when braking and was planning to check the brakes when doing the struts but turned out the vibration was also resolved with the proper studs.

I had used this shop before for tires and had gotten decent service and actually watched them use their torque wrench after putting the tires on. I just think some technicians are relying too much on the impact air gun to do all the work. I think 6 out of ten could probably be a new record.

So, one perfect afternoon wasted fixing this, Saturday morning I put the new struts and got an alignment and car rides like new. Say all you want about knock off aftermarket brands, but this one seems decent for an older car.

As I was doing the struts, I noticed the seepage from my steering rack has gotten a bit worse. This might be the last straw for me to get a newer car. I am really loosing faith based on the technicians I have used over the last 10 years. It seems like at least here in LA, it is either do it yourself or be ripped off with poor quality expensive work that needs a few return trips. I know there are a lot of good and honest mechanics on this site, I just can’t find them where I live or maybe their hours are very restrictive.

I just wanted to share my experience, rant over, sorry guys (& gals) :slight_smile:


#2

What did you go with?

Monroe or KYB?

Or something else?


#3

It’s a good rant and you can try a sealer for the leaky rack. There were some recommendations recently so you might search here for them. Depending on other people to do my work is getting easier now that I can’t get off the floor without a low couch nearby. Work is for great granddaughters to do for me.


#4

I went with Unity brand; I know it is a no-name manufacturer but the reviews were good and it is performing well so far. with close to 165K miles I have been put on a budget limitation on how much money I would sink in the car. The reality is I have not been a big fan of this car since I got it in 2008 so am looking for a fun, small stick shift car for my commute. The list of issues from poor brake design to the VVT noise on start up and the potential for the stripped head bolts are long enough and I think I have gotten my money’s worth.

As for @pleasedodgevan2, I am approaching 50 very fast and as much as I want to think I am fit (I lift and jog), but I can not bend as good as I used too. I work a lot of extra shifts and now the number of drivers in our household keeps increasing. So right now I am maintaining 3 cars and soon enough it would be 4. So, I can relate to the notion that one should relax and let someone else do the job, it just concerns me on how the quality is going to be.


#5

I understand the rant. I am past 50 and still fix my own cars, for the most part. I see the same thing in Florida you see in Cali with respect to mechanics. I found an indie shop that is honest and the techs seem to be pretty high quality but you need to search them out. They aren’t on every corner.

I’ve also found a machine shop that also appears to be pretty competent. I just needed some rotors turned and they did it properly after I talked to the machinist and explained why I wanted these OEM rotors cut rather than using new, cheap, import rotors. I was impressed with the work. I was more impressed when the machinist answered "where is that engine block from? - A Marmon. Gotta love a shop that will rebuild a Marmon.


#6

I see the same problems in NH.

Have you checked with the local community college if they have an automotive program? If they’re doing labwork right now on steering systems they might be able to help you and save you a ton of money. Talk to the department “chair”. It’s worth the phone call. :relaxed:


#7

This is a situation where even a diy’er is between a rock and a hard place. A diy’er can’t really dismount the old ones and mount the new ones to replace tires in their driveway. Not something a diy’er would attempt even if they thought they could do it probably. So replacing tires involved a tire shop guy removing and installing the wheels, and those guys are paid to work fast. Impact wrenches make the job go faster, but if not used carefully, the owner ends up w/ the problem mentioned.

hmmm, so what could be done about it? hmmm … … well, I suppose a person needing new tires could put the vehicle on jackstands & and take only the wheels to the tire shop, where they could remove the old ones and install the new tires, balance the wheels, but without having access to the lug nuts.


#8

I’ve done the bead breaker, spoons, bubble balance-not fun, and really not balanced, but for beaters it was OK. I do take my tires in loose and install them on the car myself, especially my older ‘collectibles’.


#9

Here’s my story- I hate tire shopping mostly because I try to avoid anyone touching my vehicles if at all possible. Tire stores always want to do lots of extras and I also have bad experiences with lug nut torque and improper air pressures in the past so…

I did just what you described. I found tires I wanted and went to the local NTB with 4 loose wheels. I must have been the first person to do that there. When I returned to pick them up, passing by the service door on the way to the customer area, I heard some guy I had never seen before yell to the guys in the back- the guy with the loose wheels is here to pick them up!

Word had gotten around. I guess the guy doing the change over was asking where the vehicle was…


#10

I’ve had the same weird treatment. Not quite leper, but still. It wasn’t so bad when I took 4 Cadillac tires to them in my beater pickup, but when I pulled up in my Caddy hauling tires for the pickup…


#11

Thanks for the great posts. It seems I need two cars to change the tires on one. I also need one car that can fit the tires in the trunk. I have no truck, no need for one. The good part is that I usually buy tires in pairs-same logic of trying to avoid tire stores and their rotation I guess.

I have been reading on PS stop leaks and seems like the jury is out on whether they could damage other parts of the system, esp if a drain and refill is done. I have never had faith in anything to stop the leakage of a fluid unless it happens to be the very thicker version of the same fluid, even then you are making the leakage less obvious I guess.

I drive 2K miles a month, have my eyes on the Veloster turbo with the 6 speed manual, but by the time I am free to go shop for one, the Camry would probably be at 180K miles.


#12

I had a rack leak , I siphoned the power steering reservoir empty & refilled it with Lucas power steering stop leak . It hasn’t leaked or given me any trouble since . I could be wrong but I believe it was Tester that recommended that someone give it a try on one of the threads .


#13

I do this nearly ALL the time. I don’t want the random idiot damaging my cars.

Except for my truck that I use to haul the wheels and tires. That vehicle drives in and gets tires. I don’t even bring tires to the tire store as I keep buying the same brand and model tires (3 sets so far). I also bring in Tire Rack’s price delivered to my door as leverage but the local dealers have been pretty close anyway.