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Ouch! Visiting the dealership hurts more than the dentist

I just got back from the dealership and my wallet still hurts. I brought in my car (2008 Lexus IS 350 with RWD) because I kept hearing abnormally loud road noise from the tires or drive system. I know it is not the engine because when I upshift or downshift the pitch does not change. Rather, the noise is like running over the grooves in the pavement that are supposed to wake you up when you go off the road and the noise is constant with speed. It starts at around 30 mph.

My initial thought was that it might be a bad wheel bearing – rare, but not unheard of. Instead I was shocked with a $2100 price tag (estimated - haven’t approved the work yet) to replace the right front tire, right front rim, right front wheel bearing, redo the alignment and then replace the tire on the left side since it is a bad idea to replace one of the two front tires and not the other. (sigh)

They quoted me $664.90 for the RF rim, $636.19 for the wheel bearing including labor, $179 for the alignment and $642.60 for the two tires. I would never buy those crappy tires again and $179 seems steep for the alignment. I’m not surprised that the costs are high–I haven’t found a good independent local mechanic yet since my repairs have all been covered under warranty until now. Still, I can buy some good tires and replacement rims on Tirerack.com, but I want to know if the $636 estimate for the wheel bearing seems reasonable?

I’ve never had to replace a wheel bearing before, so I don’t know what is involved? Or how labor intensive it is. I remember repacking a few wheel bearings with my father, but they weren’t damaged. The dealer mechanic also suggested that they may find more damage to other suspension items when they try to align the wheel after. I still feel a bit like I’m being taken for a ride – and not in my car. Is replacing a wheel bearing something I can do myself?

I need some advice. I was especially put-off when they recommended I just file an insurance claim and have them pay the $2100. I did call my insurance company, but they say they don’t cover road hazard damages. (sigh)

What did you hit and how hard? You really didn’t mention much about that. You can certainly damage the tire, rim, and alignment with a good smack. I’m not as sure about the wheel bearing, but others who know more than me will be along shortly.

By the way, the new tires should go on the back because it’s dangerous to have less traction in the back (which is a topic discussed frequently here).

There’s no reason to bring your vehicle to the dealer unless the vehicle is covered under warranty or for a recall repair.

Take the vehicle to an independent shop if for nothing else a second opinion. And if the repairs are indeed required, they may be able to save you hundreds under the dealers quote.

Tester

The price on the bearing sounds about right. As to whether you can do this job I can’t say because I have no idea what your mechanical capabilities are, what tools you do or do not have, jack, jackstands, etc, etc.
This bearing should come as a hub assembly as many bearings are nowadays. This type of bearing is pricy.

Offhand, the 179 for an alignment sounds high but that can also depend on where you live. In some areas labor rates are 125 or more per flat rate hour and when you multiply that X the alignment hourly charge it could easily hit that much.
You could get this done at a general tire store for much less no doubt. The business model is different from a dealer.

I think the dealer is shooting straight with you and it sounds like the vehicle took a very hard hit on the right front. The dealer is also correct about other damage.
When a vehicle takes a hit hard enough to bend a wheel rim and damage a wheel bearing there’s about a 95% chance there is damage to suspension components such as control arms and sway bar along with strut, steering knuckle, or subframe damage.

I would start by replacing ALL the tires, inspect the suspect rim, and have an alignment. See if that takes care of things…

The OP never said he hit anything…

True enough, but reading between the lines make it appear so and the OP is apparently not disputing the word damage being used.

How about it OP? Did you hit something and what did the tire wear look like on the front tires? (worn on one edge or the other, etc, etc)

I doubt you could do the wheel bearing yourself, since most wheel bearings on newer cars are pressed into the hub assembly, where they use to be taper bearings that were easily removed. If you can remove the hub/spindle yourself and buy the wheel bearing at a local auto parts you could take the hub to a machine shop and have them press the old one out and press the new one in. I had to replace a front wheel bearing a couple years ago on my old '88 Escort, I did all the work myself except pressing the old bearing out and the new one in. I think the bearing was about $30 and I was charged $20 to have the bearing pressed, if I recall correctly. The price of the alignment sounds really high to me, the last place I had my car aligned charged $50. It think. A factory service manual, Haynes or Chilton’s manual should be able to guide you through the hub removal process if you don’t know how to do it yourself.

I’m sure I ran over a few potholes in the last year. Otherwise I haven’t hit anything.

Tire wear appears normal with a bit more wear on both the inner and outer edges of both front tires. It isn’t excessive, but I should probably slow down more when cornering. There was a small split in the side of the tire wall. Those low profile tires don’t provide much shock absorption – or a very smooth ride either.

The bearing job looks like a lot of work. I’m pretty sure I will just pay to have it done because I don’t have the correct tools or a safe place to work on the car for an extended period. The driveway is too sloped and the garage is full of junk… but that’s another story.

Its just time to get it out of the dealership & start asking around among people you know for a good, locally owned, independent shop. A very large % of cost should slide right off that impending bill.

@lion, IIRC this car has different size tires on the back, so your point is moot.

Can you see any damage on the right front rim? Turn the wheels all the way to the left and ring. You might be bale to inspect the rear of the rim, too. You can measure ovality with a tape measure. Measure the rim diameter in several places to see if it is a circle or oval. You can compare it to another rim if you want to. It’s easier to do if you take the right front rim off.

With a luxury car, like a Lexus, comes luxurious repair bills. If you want cheaper repair bills, I suggest you get an economy car, or something that is typically cheaper to own and fix.

Take it to an independent mechanic. There are ones that specialize in Toyota/Lexus or Asian generally if you are more comfortable.

Luxury dealerships are wonderful for in warranty/maintenance ownership. However not a requirement for out of warranty items.

Dealership will be top tier pricing for tires which are likely OEM. OEM tires also tend to be very expensive vs others available.

Case in point the OEM tires for my wife’s Subaru Legacy GT (performance oriented) tires are $235/each for a Bridgestone RE92a’s. They are dreadful. Even the most expensive Michelin or better Bridgestone retails in about $50-$70/each tire less.