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Now What Do I Do?

Recently I talked about when it’s time to quit fixing a car. I had replaced tires, etc. and you all told me to hang on to it. Well, now I need your opinion.

Saturn 2002, 145,000 miles

Tires replaced this year.

Drive 60 miles/day round trip

Saturn dealer told me it needs in order of priority:

Left Front spring is broke, need to place both and align front tires = $570

Secondary Air pump not working - overheating. = $420

Oil leak from head gasket

Serpentine belt

Top engine mount - rubber gramat = $1400

Sludge clean up in oil = $140

power steering fluid flush = $90

Brake fluid flush = $90

The first thing I would do is get away from the Saturn dealer and get an opinion/estimate from an independent mechanic.

What is the reason the car is in the dealer’s service department? Why did you take it in? What, if any, were the symptoms?

We also need to know the model, engine, and transmission type.

If the spring is broken you need new front springs. How did the spring get broken? I’ve never had a broken spring in more than 40 years of driving.

The sludge clean up and PS flush are nothing but profit generators. Skip them.

Brake fluid flush? Maybe, depending on when it was last done.

Again, what was it that made you take the car to the dealer in the first place? Were you having a problem? If so, what was it?

The reason I took it in was that the Engine Service light came on. The symptom was lower gas mileage in a recent trip 7-10 miles lower. Have no idea how the spring was broken.
Model: SL Sedan
Engine: 4-116, 1.9L SOHC
Transmission: Auto

Most of the things on the list have NOTHING to do with the reason you took the car in. I’m going to guess the faulty secondary air pump is the reason the light came on. The rest sounds to me like a dealer fishing expedition. Happens all the time, however, regardless of brand, so don’t feel bad.

I’d want to see the broken spring for myself before I authorized any repair. If a spring is broken the car should sit lower in that corner, and I would expect to hear some unusual noises while driving. Broken springs are VERY unusual.

Perhaps others with more knowledge of the Saturn brand will have recommendations or can offer advice. I’d get a second opinion on most of this stuff. Even if some of it is legitimate you can save money by having the work done elsewhere.

This illustrates what we always say, “If the price seems too high, it probably is. Get a second, or third, quote, to get some relief”.
The dealer is NOT the only shop which can handle causes of warning lights (regardless of what the dealer says).

Agree mc; most of this sounds fishy. A broken spring, unless it is a leaf spring with some broken leaves, would make the car vitually undriveable. Last time I had one was non a 1976 Ford Granada rear spring. The whole thing snapped while towing a trailer.

I would only fix the item that made the the light come on, and only after being convinced what the problem was, and after being convinced the dealer was competent enought to actually fix it. The rest of the items I would get a competent independent second opinion on.

Definately take the car to another mechanic for a second opinion and estimate. I’m guessing the spring on a front strut is broken, perhaps rusted out. Two front struts and alignment should go for under $500.

The secondary air pump was overheating? Or the car was overheating? Perhaps a salvage yard part would save some $$$.

If the motor mount has failed that should be replaced, but not too hard. Serp belt is easy. You need to get some more info on the head gasket leak, a good reason for the 2nd opinion.

Putting almost $3,000 into the car at this point is something to think about. I think you can have a solid car again for much less, like $1,200 to 1,500.

Sometimes retorquing the head can slow or stop an oil leak, so get another set of eyes on the problem.