Suggested repairs

I just had my 2000 Camry serviced at 78,000 miles. I would like to have comments on the following recommendations made by the Toyota Dealership:

Transmission flush-$130 (last done in '04 at 38,000)

Tune up-$140 (never done)

Timing belt/drive belts-$365

Front strut mounts, including alignment-$562(There is a rattle when I go over bumps. I bought this car from this dealship new. It had the rattle when delivered new. I took it in acouple of times, but they said they couldn’t find a problem. I moved away for about 6 years, and moved back to this area this summer. Should this make a difference on price?)

Valve cover gaskets beginning to leak-$454.

I intend to keep the car for several more years. Any comments, suggestions, or advice would be appreciated. Thanks.

Transmission flush-$130 (last done in '04 at 38,000)

Should be no need. I would consider a fluid & filter change in the next 30,000 sometime.

Tune up-$140 (never done)

Very possibly needed. What is on their list? Tune-up is not a specific set of services.

Timing belt/drive belts-$365

Likely needed soon if not now.

Front strut mounts, including alignment-$562

Get a second opinion (see last comment)

Valve cover gaskets beginning to leak-$454

Seems expensive to me. How bad are they leaking and are you sure they were leaking before you stopped in? (see last comment)

Always consult the owner’s manual for maintenance. It will tell you want is needed and when. Don’t rely on the dealer or other service source to know or to give you a straight answer.

   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. 

I suggest that most people would be better off finding a good independent (Not working for a chain) mechanic.

Mr. Meehan. I followed your advise. I saved several hundred dollars, plus found a good mechanic. Thanks. hawkeye 21

Glad to hear it.

Every so often on my 2002 Sienna (I think uses Camry power train) I pull the transmission plug, 3 quarts run out, I add 3 quarts, and at little cost. Do that often enough and it will always be fresh. Find out first where to dispose of fluid, it varies.