I recently took my 98 Toyota Sienna in for a broken latch and was told that my water pump was leaking. They recommended that the water pump be replaced due to a slight leak and that they would “inspect timing belt for contamination.” As I’ve already had the timing belt changed twice (last a year ago at 120k) I hope it’s okay. My van has 135k miles on it and I want to fix what needs to be fixed - but is $720 truly the right price? I’d like to get a second opinion, though I do semi trust the dealership. They also recommend replacing the valve cover and pcv valve, due to a slight leak - it’s so slight I haven’t noticed it or seen the oil go down. If they check the timing belt, shouldn’t it be cheaper to then change the valve cover gasket - that job is $540. Help!
Use the dealer for this repair if you don’ mind spending hundreds of dollars more than what an independent mechanic/shop would charge you.
Yes, the valve cover has to come off to change the water pump and timing belt.
Toyota Motorcar Company, probably, recommends changing the timing belt at 100,000 mile intervals. The dealers recommend changing at 60,000 miles. The dealers would, probably, recommend changing at 15,000 miles, if they could get away with it. That extra timing belt change has already cost you a pretty penny, hasn’t it?
Most responders on this forum recommend changing the water pump when the timing belt is changed to prevent the very problem you face: a water pump needing replacement between timing belt changes.
If the dealer had followed the repair manual, they would have replaced the valve cover seals when they replaced the timing belt (both times). Those seals wouldn’t now be leaking.
Ideally the water pump would have been changed when they did the timing belt. While it is not required to be changed, it is highly recommended because most of the cost of replacing it is covered by the timing belt change. If it was not changed with the last timing belt, it may be a good idea to do it now, but I would find an independent mechanic to take care of it and stay away from the dealer.
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.
Looking back at my repair records I see that the cam and crank seals were changed when the timing belt was changed a year ago. Are they different then the valve cover gasket? Since it was over a year ago they may have recommended the water pump be replaced - I don’t remember - but it looks like I had some seals replaced at the same time - $149 worth. I think I’ll call an independent and see if they can work us in. One of the main reasons I like the dealer is that they provide loaner cars, and the independents are not within walking distance or on a bus line. I need my van daily to drive kids everywhere, so it is a small dilemna.
Unfortunately, the water pump runs off the timing belt. So you might as well have them put on a new timing belt anyway. The cost will be minimal. Also, they want to replace the valve cover gasket, not the valve cover. It and the PCV valve should be relatively inexpensive. The labor for everything will be high because the engine is not easy to access in a minivan.
If you wanted cheaper labor costs, you should have bought something other than a minivan.
The cam and cranks seals are different than the valve cover gasket. As for the timing belt, I think they have to take it off to do the water pump. If so, I’d replace it, there should be no additional labor cost, just the part. And I had that exact work done at my independent shop, with no problem.
Cam and crank seals are not the same as valve cover gasket. The correct timing belt interval was 90K. Many folks would opt to change it at 7 yrs if 90K miles were not reached. The second one done at 120K was premature, and the dealer should have strongly recommended water pump replacement at that time, in my opinion.
While I understand the issue of loaner car, this dealer “nicked” you for an extra timing belt, and is now going to charge you full price for a water pump that could have been replaced at 120K on a preventive basis, so your free loaners have become relatively expensive propositions. If you can work it out, find an independent who will provide you with better advice, and in the long run, maintain your car just as well without the accelerated timing belt costs.
As far as valve cover and PCV leakage, I would let it go for a while, because some seepage/leakage is not generally a big deal if you watch your fluid levels accordingly.
This dealer really hasn’t done you any favors, loaner car aside… If you choose to stay with the dealer, make him stick to the owner’s manual service recommendations, rather than his own, self-serving ones. Check back here before you commit to major repairs (if time and circumstances permit), and someone here can help you verify the necessity or advisability of the recommendation.
I have found, through this website, an independent mechanic who has already told me that I need a new water pump. I was impressed that he wanted to fix it, if possible - nope. He also told me the problem with a leaking valve cover gasket is that the hot oil drips onto rubber parts, which then melt. I like being able to ask my questions to him, personally, instead of the dealership’s service advisor, who may or may not know the answer. I may need a new power steering pump and more - but my van has been good to me and I don’t plan on getting a new or used vehicle as long as it makes sense to fix mine! Hopefully with a good mechanic by my side I will make wiser decisions in the future. Thanks, everyone, for your input
The independent mechanic noticed a scratch on my cam shaft shield (?) when he replaced the water pump. First he noticed that the cam and crank shaft seals were leaking - even though they were changed a year ago when the timing belt was replaced. Then he noticed that the dealership scratched the cam shaft when they replaced the seals, which is why the seals are leaking now. I called the dealership, not knowing what to expect, and they said they are responsible and they will take care of it! First they were going to have my van towed to them, but decided to have a local machine shop (recommended by independent mechanic) polish the scratch - and they would cut a check and send someone by car over to pay my mechanic. Wow! I’m happy with the dealership and even happier with my new mechanic. May he never retire. Yes, the extra timing belt has cost me a pretty penny - sigh - but I still am glad I have my van and now a mechanic of my own. The valve cover, I gather, doesn’t have to come off to change the timing belt, though they will be checking to see if the valve cover gasket needs replacing.
Sounds like you are on the right track. To the dealer’s credit, they are taking responsibility on the scratch. It sounds like you are hooked up with a good independent mechanic.