Replace Rack & Pinion or Buy new Car?

2000 Toyota Sienna 167K miles

Tuneup revealed that I need to fix/replace seeping rack and pinion as well as replace a valve cover. Cost is $3K. (Good maintenance history - no major issues)

Is it worth the repair or shall I be spending time on the dealerships for a replacement?

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$3000 is way high. And if you were really losing fluid through the rack your level would drop. Quickly. And your steering would get hard.

I’ve seen this ploy used as a revenue generator. Before doing anything I suggest that you monitor your power steering fluid level for a while and see if you’re losing any.

I’ve also seen valve cover gaskets used as a revenue generating ploy. Is oil dripping onto the manifold? Do you have small puddles in the driveway?

Unless, of course, you’ve been seeing puddles in your driveway and have the other symptoms mentioned.

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Get two more estimates from independent garages you trust. But first take advantage of mountainbike’s excellent advice. If you haven’t noticed noise when you turn, hard steering, or irregular effort when you turn then you have a while to figure it out.

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I could see the repairs being this high based on Toyota OEM parts and a valve cover. (valve cover or valve cover gasket?)
Breaking down the 3 grand (which is high) might provide a better handle on what’s what here.

A Genuine Toyota R and P will likely be obscene in price but it’s not all the dealer doing this. Toyota is going to hang it on the dealer on the dealer cost of that part and considering Toyota’s recent recalls and financial hits you can bet the farm they’re going to make this up somewhere else; and one of those somewhere elses is going to be on parts.

You should get a couple of estimates from an independent shop and odds are you will find with aftermarket parts the total cost should be quite a bit less.
Quite a bit less I’d say fix it. For 3 grand I would say no.

Have a second mechanic (Ideally not a chain or dealer shop) check out the car and see if they see the same problem and see how much it would cost.

“Turn-up” is not a standard thing these days. it could mean almost anything. Who did the maintenance (dealer, local independent mechanic, yourself???)

If it was a quick lube place, well… you should start over.

You need more info before getting a $3K repair job. The leaking valve cover isn’t a big deal. If the leak is very small and not affecting anything you might just let it be. A top off of oil every few months is cheap.

The steering rack needs to be addressed. All steering racks “seep” especially in 10+ year old cars. Is this a real leak? Are you seeing spots on the garage floor? Or, puddles of power steering fluid where you park the car? A little “seepage” could be normal and the rack might last for a long time as it is. If you have to top off your power steering more than every 6 months you likely have a problem. If you aren’t adding power steering fluid every few months then you should monitor the problem and if, or when, the leaking gets worse deal with it then.

Lots of parts on a 10+ year old car can be tired simply from years of use and miles driven. A new power steering rack fits this category. A new one will give you years of service. Your car is old and full of “tired” parts. If you keep it you’ll need to figure on spending about $2,000 a year replacing tired parts (in addition to new brakes, tires, struts, etc.) and some down time while the car is in the shop for repairs. Alternators, radiators, heater cores, AC condensors, bunches of sensors, catalytic converters, yadda yadda, can all just be wearing out and need replacing. This doesn’t mean you have a bad Sienna, it means you have an old Sienna.

If you want a dependable, never in the shop for repairs vehicle then you might need to shop for a new mini van. If you can live with some repair bills you need to find a good mechanic that will charge a lot less than the Toyota dealer service dept. doing equal quality work.

We took our 2008 Toyota Sienna to the dealer for a Virginia inspection. They failed it for 1) leaking rack and pinion and 2) broken rear coil spring.

The steering is fine. It doesn’t whine and is not difficult to move in either direction.

The cost of repairs is around 3000. I guess since it failed Virginia inspection for what must be a very small leak, we are forced to replace it within 15 days :frowning:

Can you get an inspection at another shop? If not, take it to two or three other, independent shops for an estimate. Show them the inspection notice and ask what it costs to fix it. The inspecting dealer does not have to fix it, you just need to show it is fixed. If the dealer told you that they have to fix it, I wouldn’t believe them. In that case, call the DMV or State Police to get the story on who can fix inspection failure problems. I’d guess anyone can, as long as you have a receipt to show it was done.

Yes I’ve done some research. It should be much cheaper. I don’t really get why a slow leak is a safety issue, but I guess because if it’s not addressed, it can suddenly cause loss of steering.

We have a good reasonable mechanic. Unfortunately he’s on vacation. There is almost no puddle where the van usually parks and we haven’t had to put fluid in. The steering is fine and doesn’t make noise. Unfortunately because it was part of a va state inspection we are FORCED to replace it. That’s the part that is really frustrating. I don’t think I have any way of challenging the state inspector.

This is an old thread, resurrected by a new question, always better to start a new one.

Nonetheless, is this the dealer doing the VA inspection? I see conflict of interest.

Do you have inspection only stations in VA? I will use them and am sure that a minor steering rack seepage (kinda Toyota thing at that mileage), would not fail the car.

Yes the dealer did the inspection. I’ll call around other inspection stations to see if another station can reverse the failure. It’s all computerized, so it’s in the system as having failed.