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Over Charged?

My new wife has a 2004 Highlander that just reached 65,000 miles. In 36 months of ownership she has racked up $4987.00 in service $$s at the dealership. This seems kind of high. Items such as 3 powersteering fluid changes, 2 rear dif. oil changes,2 trans. services and 5, fuel injector or related cleanings…and a timming belt change …already???

Can you help me put some perspective on this please???

First: Your owner’s manual list the services your car needs and when they should be done. The dealer list the services that his accountant says you need to make a profit. I am sorry to say you have paid a lot to keep your dealer’s accountant happy. Some of that total was valid and needed however.

Second. 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.

Do I Need Stitches?
This question reminds me of the time I was installing new sharpened blades on the deck of my lawn tractor. My hand slipped and I cut my arm. The first hospital emergency room was too busy. I drove 50 miles to the next one and asked the receptionist if I needed stitches. She said, “Let me see!” This is a case where one knows the answer in advance. Otherwise, the question would probably not be posed in the first place.

Pretty soon, she’ll be charged for parts they are wearing out! By the way, when can she drive it, on week-ends?

Did you do more than what the owner’s manual requires? If so, what was the reason?

A timing belt and transmission service I could see. She did not need 2 differential oil changes and 3 power steering fluid changes at this point.

As to fuel injector cleaning, there’s a time and place when it could be needed but it’s rare.
If one ever suspects the start of a fuel injector(s) problem it will be noticeable when the vehicle is idling. A injector that is acting up will cause either a rough idle or a slight stumble at idle. The stumble may even be erratic in nature.


Over charged ? Probably.

3 Power steering fluid changes… Look in the owner’s manual. Is that ever required at all? I doubt it. At only 65k the original fluid should be good.

I can see the dif and trans service but this stuff can be done by any mechanic and it’s your responsibility to know when that stuff is due.

Timing Belt change… Shouldn’t have been done until 90-100k.

5 fuel injector cleanings? Was the car running poorly? If not… waste of $. Even if it was running poorly, 1 cleaning should have been adequate but truthfully those injectors should be good until 250,300k.

The dealership isn’t doing you a favor by reminding you when it’s time for service, you’re doing them a favor by going there.

Find an independent mom & pop mechanic and stop wasting money at the dealership.

Curious,what is your spark plug replacement interval? Have you done one replacement yet?There are some horror stories about stuck plugs,look into this (I know this is a old post and you are probably long gone)