Several Repair Issues raised by Repair Shop

Wanted to get a little feedback. I have a 2004 Honda Odyssey…it has 135,000 miles. Been having some AC issues as well as some front end vibration issues, so I took it in. I let the shop know that I was trying to evaluate whether to keep this vehicle and what it might cost to get it to a reliable state, so I could continue to drive it. I do have a comfort level with this shop and that they’re being straight with me. Here is the report:

AC - leak in the line (no compressor/condensor issue) - line needs to be replaced; ($375)
Front Sway Bar Links - need to be replaced ($185)
Front Strut Assembly - needs to be replaced but not immediately critical; ($950)
Steering Gear is leaking power steering fluid - needs to repair leak (not sure all that is involved but pump does not need to be replaced); described as more critical than front strut assembly but again, not immediately critical ($915)
Front Hydraulic Motor Mount - needs to be replaced…only issue with one mount; causing stress on other mounts - not described as critical ($475)
Timing Belt - not inspected but question raised on whether it has been replaced during life of vehicle and that they may be another issue at some point soon ($700)

If this were your vehicle and the goal was to get it driveable and safe for another 3-4 years, which of these issues would you go ahead and address now. The AC has to be fixed, but beyond that I’m trying to weigh which of these issues needs attention and which is not that important. I don’t expect this vehicle to drive like new…don’t mind a little rough ride as long as there are no safety concerns.


Your mechanic is right on. The AC is a comfort issue. You can sweat, it isn’t as important as the other things. The timing belt, if it breaks could cost you a LOT more money. Fix that first. Fix the steering leak at the same time and the stab bar links, those are safety issues with the car’s handling. Those are not only about ride

Only at that point would I consider having the AC fixed. then the motor mounts and struts last. Those should put you in pretty good shape for a while. Be sure to put aside money for repairs, there are more coming as miles pile on but they are cheaper than a new car.

I agree. Just make sure that when the timing belt is replaced, they replace the other parts on the belt, such as water pump and tensioner.

I’d opt to get them all done at once, you should get a discount.


@Mustangman Agree and I would also add replacing the engine mount. These are gel filled and are subject to problems. One failed one will make the others go more quickly.

“Timing Belt - not inspected but question raised on whether it has been replaced during life of vehicle and that they may be another issue at some point soon .”

Should we infer from the statement above that this vehicle was purchased “used”, and that the OP has no idea about its prior maintenance?

If so, all I can say is that without documents indicating that the timing belt was replaced on schedule by the previous owner, the OP should not even consider any of the other repairs until the timing belt (and water pump, and serpentine belt, and all belt tensioners) has been replaced.

If that timing belt is the original, it is now ~3 years overdue for replacement. The belt might last for another year or so, or it could snap tomorrow–with no warning whatsoever. And, when it snaps the resulting repair bills–over and above the cost of the timing belt, water pump, serpentine belt and tensioners–will likely be ~$2k.

If the OP is thinking logically (and with his wallet), he will have the timing belt replaced tomorrow, and then prioritize the other repairs.

I agree with the TB as being the first and most critical. I too wonder whether the estimate includes the tensioner and water pump. Find out first, but if not be sure they include it.

If the “steering gear” is the rack, as I suspect, I’d suggest doing the rack and the struts together. Both will require some of the same effort, and either by itself would require an alignment after (ask if the alignment is included in the quotes). Might’s well do both, do one alignment (typically about $100) and get it over with.

If you can swing it, the sway bar links need to be disconnected from the steering knuckles to change the struts anyway, so the mechanic will be right there, so you might want to consider having those done when the struts are done. It isn’t a big deal to the mechanic, but the car will already be on the lift, the wheels will be off, and his hands will be 3" from the sway bar links.

The motor mount and AC can wait for last, the AC last of all.

Summary; I suspect that the estimate given was per-repair, right from the book, as if each was being done by itself. That would be prudent on his part, so you don’t get surprises if you have them done one-by-one. However some of these repairs require some of the same effort, so talk to the mechanic and you may just be able to save some money. Show him this post when you talk to him if you’d like. I’m willing to bet he can save you a bunch.

WE can’t see the condition of your van or know where you live. If it is rust free, then it is well worth putting the money into it. Add up the estimates they gave you and and tell them you realize that some of these jobs duplicate labor for the others and ask for a firm quote for doing them all at once.

This doesn’t obligate you to get them all done, but it would be nice to see how much you could save.

If the timing belt is due for replacement, either for mileage or time, I’d put that as first priority. The suspension and engine mount issues, no way to tell from your description. You’ll have to trust your shop for their advice on those items. After all, they’ve actually seen, shaken, twisted etc the parts. Ask them which ones are more likely to affect driving safety, and do those first.

The power steering, it depends where the leak is. And how much is leaking out. Those typically leak where the high pressure rubber hose connects with the power steering box, and doesn’t involve the pump. It’s usually the hose that leaks, at that connection. Ask them to show you where it is leaking, maybe it will be there. Whenever you turn the steering wheel and it hits a “stop”, you know, where it won’t turn any further, that’s usually what results in the hose getting flexed more than it can take, and develops a leak. So if you decide not to fix the PS leak, try to avoid hitting the steering wheel stops. & monitor the power steering fluid level carefully to judge how quickly the fluid is leaking out.

I agree that the timing belt should be replaced immediately, as it’s overdue by time and mileage

I somewhat disagree about the importance of the AC . . . fix it if you ever plan on selling te van. Somebody will lowball you if you try to sell it with ac blowing hot air

It sounds like the A/C is a done deal. The next 2 priorities IMO would be the timing belt and sway bar links.
The rest of the stuff could be done by coin flips.

Have you priced this work around? Is that 950 for ONE strut assembly? The terminology is singular is why I ask. If so; ouch.
For what it’s worth and if this does involve one strut it should be kept in mind that struts are always replaced in pairs if the job is done correctly.

The exception to replacing them in pairs would be if the replacement was on a nearly new vehicle under warranty or a damaged strut on a nearly new vehicle that suffered a collision.

11 year old vehicle, 135K . . . replace 4 “ready struts” meaning strut, coil and mount, all assembled

you’ll probably notice a big difference in ride quality afterwards

Thanks for all the helpful responses. To fill in a few gaps:

I did buy this vehicle used from a family member but have driven it for the past 7-8 years; I am quite certain the timing belt has not been replaced. It seems the clear consensus is that the TB is priority #1.

The quote of $950 was for full parts and labor on both front strut assemblies…springs, bushings, struts, etc.

I understand the notion that the AC is not critical…but try to tell my wife that who is the primary driver of the van…I’ll gladly put down $375 to avoid the wrath of an unhappy wife during a hot summer in the South. :smile:

I think right now I’m inclined to put the money into the van and try to squeeze another 80-100K miles out of it and am considering doing the following:

  1. Timing Belt & water pump (NOW)

  2. AC (NOW)

  3. Front sway bar links (quote included front end alignment) (NOW)

  4. Front strut assemblies (MAYBE - will see if I can get a discounted estimate based on duplicative labor with front sway bar links)

  5. Power steering gear (HOLD)

  6. Motor mount (HOLD)

I’m glad that the OP has agreed that the timing belt is the first priority, but because that part of the Honda maintenance schedule was obviously ignored, that makes me wonder about the other vital maintenance procedures that have been skipped over the years.

I strongly suggest that the OP open the glove compartment, take out the Owner’s Manual, and compare the listed items with his maintenance invoices. Unless the car has been maintained at least as well as the mfr specifies, then there is a real need to play “catch-up” at this point.

And, even if the mfr’s maintenance schedule probably doesn’t list transmission fluid changes, the OP needs to know that this is something that needs to be done every 3 years/30k miles. That type of maintenance is important with any vehicle, but with a Honda Odyssey of that era–which have notoriously weak transmissions–it is imperative.

“The quote of $950 was for full parts and labor on both front strut assemblies…springs, bushings, struts, etc.”

Do you know if the mechanic intends to use Monroe Quick Struts? I’m not sure if they’re available for your vehicle, but these strut/spring/bearing assemblies are usually less costly than individual parts and save in installation labor costs. A check of the Monroe website will give you an idea of availability and cost.

Why are the struts suggested? Struts can seep oil and not be a problem. They shouldn’t leak oil to the point that ride/handling or tire wear is an issue, though. Bad strut bearings do need to be replaced and at that time struts could be considered, too. Do you know why struts are on the list?


@RayKarpis - take another look at #6. The motor mount is critical IMO. If the mount moves too much it puts more stress on the other mounts and then instead of replacing one, you are replacing several. Also the motor and transaxle moving too much puts more stress on other front end and drive line components - all expensive to fix and/or replace. I’d put #6 in the now category. If money is real tight then put #3 on hold for a month or two and do #3 and #4 at the same time.

@UncleTurbo, I respectfully disagree. Timing belt is way overdue on time and mileage. The motor mount is important, but should be considred 2nd to that TB. Especially if the mechanic that actually looked at it didn’t consider it a priority repair.

I’d rather have a bad motor mount cause premature wear on my other motor mounts than have a failed timing belt take out my valves and ding my pistons. I still feel the TB should be #1 on the list.

I think everybody agrees the timing belt is top priority

$700 for the timing belt is a good price if it includes a new water pump and coolant replacement. You must do at least those at the same time. Given that the timing belt was not replaced at the Honda recommended 107,000 miles, you should consider replacing the pulleys at the same time. If you don’t want to spend it all at once, ask the mechanic for a prioritized list. Give him an idea how much you want to spend at each visit. You should do at least the timing belt immediately. And do both suspension repairs at the same time.

Db, I got the impression that Uncle T considered the motor mount more pressing than the T-belt. Uncle T, if I misunderstood, you have my apology.