What to do when mechanics disagree

This weekend, while getting my brakes done, the guys at Firestone told me I needed new outer tie rods and gave me a quote of about $380. I decided to get another estimate, and took my car to an independent shop I have used before. They told me nothing was wrong and sent me on my way.

So, now I’m unsure of what to do. I have over 200K miles on the car, and I drive over 500 miles a week–if something is wrong, I definitely want to fix it. However, I don’t want to pay for unnecessary repairs. Should I get another opinion, or trust the mechanic who told me they were fine?

I’d trust your independent mechanic. It’s not unusual for some chain stores to oversell. I’d avoid that Firestone shop.

Is anything at all noticeably wrong? Vibration? Unusual tire wear? Odd handling?

I agree with my friend from Taxas. Stay away from especially Firestone.

You could check the tie rods yourself: jack the front end up, have someone hold the steering wheel tight and see how much wiggle there is in the wheel by grabbing it across the tire and try to turn it in and out. There shouldn’t be any mechanical slop.

I’m inclined to believe the independent.

True story: I bough an out-of-state car and drove it home to PA. I had it inspected at the (State College, PA) Firestone, where they said it needed both ball joints (plus some other stuff) to pass inspection…I had them do the ball joints.

Three months later, I brought it in for tires…they tried to say they were bad again! (It WAS fun watching 'em hemming and hawing when I produced the receipt.)

Point being, some shops will try to sell steering/suspension work that isn’t really needed. This works because of the safety-related nature of such components, plus the fact that you have to get the front wheels up in the air to confirm or deny, which isn’t easily done by both motorists.

I doubt seriously that the independent would FAIL to recommend tie rods if truly needed: even if he was so busy that he didn’t want the work,given the safety-related nature of the job, I’d expect him to at least tell you, “yeah, better get that checked out.”

Stores like Firestone have regular promotions. This month was likely “tie rod month”. I’ve had a similar pitch from Midas that I needed front springs, since the car had bottomed several times. I worked on construction at that time and had to drive on very rough trails. When I sold the car 10 years later, it still had the same front springs. Trust the independent mechanic.

The last time I bought tires from a Firestone store the manager asked me if I was the guy from the Attorney Generals office. He said I looked just like him. It may have been the look I was giving him while he was the laundry list of supposedly needed repairs to another customer on his 3 year old Impala.

Go with the independent mechanic. The chain shops make commission on sales, a lot of these mechanics are short time employees. The independent shop is probably thinking long term and wants you to come back.

If the independent shop didn’t find a problem with your tie-rods I’d trust that. I mean, what have they got to lose? Replacing outer tie-rods is one of the easiest quickest ways to make good money. If they had any wear on them I’m sure they would have recommended replacement.

First mistake, you told them car has 200k miles. $$$$ for shop

First mistake, you told them car has 200k miles.

You mean the mechanic would NEVER look at the OD.