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Timing Belt: Deceptive Advertising?

Wondering what others think about the following offer, emailed to me as a longtime patron of the particular dealership; I go in this morning for the work to be performed to find that when they do the timing belt replacement they also do the water pump, coolant, seals, tensioner, etc. Total? About $1,500., not the $599.95 they quote below. I suppose a person familiar with cars knows the ?whole kit? can?t be done for less than $1,000, but the layperson (me) does not know that.


Expires: 4/30/2010



I got all that done for my Civic for about $550 not too long ago at a Goodyear shop. Your mechanic SHOULD include the water pump and belt tensioner in the job, and it is a good idea to include the crank shaft seal if it is leaking, but I am willing to bet that $1,500 quote includes more than just the timing belt job. It probably includes other dealership-recommended services that either aren’t listed in your owner’s manual or are due at this time in addition to the timing belt job.

This kind of sticker shock is what you get when you go to a dealership for service instead of a good non-dealer mechanic. If you can find a good independent mechanic, it is worth checking out, but they can be just as crooked as anyone else.

I need to see the whole $1,500 quote before I condemn this dealership. There is more going on than you have mentioned so far.

Not really deceptive. You don’t have to do the water pump, etc, but it usually makes sense to. Agree, what’s the whole story?

Question: Does the engine in this vehicle use a rubber timing belt?
Answer: Yes.
Response: Thank You, goodbye…

If consumers asked this question, rubber timing belts would be gone in two years. Toyota has just about purged their fleet of them…

I agree that the quoted price from that dealership is high. However, that should not really be too much of a surprise. While some dealerships do have competive prices for timing belt replacement, not all of them have this policy.

Going by the strict letter of the maintenance schedule, the other items don’t have to be replaced. It is absolutely a good idea to take care of the other items while you have that part of the engine opened up, but some people choose not to. For those who choose not to replace the other items, the advertising was correct. Too high a price, but correct in principle, nevertheless.

Since the OP is knowledgeable enough to be aware that he should have the water pump, serpentine belt, and all belt tensioners replaced at the same time, he should shop around for a better price. This is just another example of “Caveat Emptor”.

It says, “$599.95 for 4 cylinder models. V6 models slightly higher.”

If I’m not mistaken the engine in your Pilot is a V6. You could have had this done for less at an independent mechanic. You didn’t need to pay dealer prices on a seven year old vehicle.

You don’t show enough of the ACTUAL ad copy.
I’ll just bet that all the answers are right where they planned for them to be *

Not deceptive advertising,
just advertising.
Surely you’ve learned by now to keep reading. You do on the restaurant ads ( between the hours of X & X, beverage,tax, and gratuity not included ), the grocery ads ( limit 3 per coupon etc ), electronics ( after mail in rebate, original receipt required, by receiving this rebate you agree to additional offers from our partner products ), And tire ads are the worst…“size P175/70R13 only, other sizes may be higher.”…MAY be higher ?? substatially !

I’m just now getting my grand kids ( 4, 6, & 10 yrs ) to see how they easily fall prey to ANY advertising. Even the passive sales pitch of the flashy pretty box on the store shelf.
" ooh , I want that." spews out at every toy ad, and every pretty box of cereal.
I pull out the old, still full, boxes of that now yucky cereal they just HAD to have as the recurring lesson about suckering in without thinking and continued reading.

  • in the fine print on the bottom or the back.
    ’‘Other parts may be needed at additional cost.’’ ‘‘labor only , parts extra.’’ etc etc etc.

Lot’s of advertising is deceptive, and this is one example. The “let the buyer beware” is as true today as ever. You can have a timing belt job done at other shops. Look for a good independant mechanic and get a quote. I had a good shop do my Toyota Sequoia (a V8) with the water pump and new serpentine belt and new coolant for about $600. You should be able to find a good place to do your Pilot for around $700 or less.

The dealer is deceptive, but they cover their butts in the fine print. Take your business elsewhere, you have options.

It would appear that dealerships find it profitable to do business this way, i.e., low ball a repair in an ad or an estimate, then kick the customer when they are looking over the counter and their car is up on a lift. Why is that so? The repair market here is somewhat competitive but all the older private shops are very carefull to make estimates based on worst case scenarios and the final bill is less than the estimate in the vast majority of cases. I prefer doing business that way myself and my customers appear to like it also.

Caddyman, I don’t think any cars use rubber timing belts. They are made of composite materials, so any salesman could honestly answer “no” without lying.

Thank you for making a mountain out of a mole hill, but if you can’t afford $550 every 90,000 miles ($0.006 per mile), perhaps you aren’t prepared for all the other costs associated with owning a car.

The question is “can described work be done for the advertised price”?

Next question "what is the advertisers responsibility towards people who chose to remain “laypeople”?

The work that they’re recommending is not unreasonable, but the price is way high…for most areas. Shop rates in urban areas do tend to be higher.

I’d make some phone calls for quotes.

Performing the lower priced timing belt change only without all the kit parts is far better than doing nothing. Chances of failure related to the other parts is fairly low if they are inspected during the change. Nothing deceptive.

nfs480, I have been making this point for a long time (that timing belts have advantages, which include increased fuel efficiency), but nobody made the point as well as you have. Thank you.

I agree andrew, give the customer the choice to just get the major item replaced, or you can use another tool in the salesmans tool box,FEAR.

This advertising is pretty mild compared to most of what’s out there. Does anyone really think that an advertised sofa is 50% off? Not for a second except with paper games.

The problem with replacing a timing belt only will be that if a problem develops with a tensioner or water pump and it has to be torn back apart again (maybe even due to major damage when the fairly new belt breaks) is that the majority of car owners who refused the water pump and tensioners will scream bloody murder even though the option was theirs to begin with.

They may not have a legal leg to stand on but they will bad mouth the shop to friends, file complaints with the BBB, file small claims suits, etc.

Another thing to consider is that one cannot physically inspect tensioner bearings or water pumps and state with any certainty at all those parts will be good in 2 weeks. It can’t be done. The fact something rotates smoothly and quietly does not mean it has a long life ahead of it. Water pumps can fail and tensioner bearings can disentegrate very quickly at some point in their life. Good today; junk in a month.

Written by Gates. They like timing belts as they sell them. BMW, Mercedes and Cadillac to name a few can do better with chain driven camshafts.

There is one main advantage to rubber, nylon and fiberglass timing belts. Cheaper for the vehicle mfr to make and assemble the engine. Being less noisy than cam chains is a bonus. They have counted on customers being ignorant of the high maintenance cost of timing belts at 60, 90 or 100k miles when buying new and used and so far it has worked but that may be changing.

Most newer cars are every 105k, so that works out to no more than 2 timing belt changes for 99% of owners. That’s like $800 over the entire life of the vehicle, less than oil changes.

Why spend $800 (and up) if you don’t have to?? Junkyards are CRAMMED with cars that were delivered there after their cheesy engines were destroyed by the failure of a rubber belt…