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dr. james

Acura tl 2006 repair estimate

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I'm sure that many members have heard the story of the school teacher who owned a low mileage car that she only drove to and from school and  then parked her car in the garage overnight.  Well I'm married to that 4th grade teacher who owns a 2006 Acura TL with 53k miles. She bought the car new from the Acura dealership 13 years ago. I actually looks as good today as it did when she took delivery.   She drives the car 4k per year.

I just returned from the Acura  dealer after having her car serviced with an oil change and filter.  While in the waiting room, a service tech came to me and said the car is ready but despite the low miles and  excellent overall condition, the car needs new spark plugs $429.95, valve adjustment $499.95, and a new PVC valve $124.95 and some fluid changes that quickly added up to $2000.   Incidentally, the car has a new timing belt, water pump, new hoses, belts, fresh antifreeze and 4 new Michelin tires.   I immediately got the impression the service tech was hoping I would say I would trade-in the car after learning about recommenced repairs.   On the way home, I stopped at my local garage to ask the independent mechanic if those repairs  were needed and if the estimate seemed accurate.  He just shook his head and said the car doesn't need those repairs at this time and when I decide to have the work done, he could  perform the repairs for a fraction of the dealer estimate.  Who is correct?

 

Thanks, Dr. James

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I have no idea what the factory recommended service intervals on those items is, but at RockAuto a new brand name PCV valve is about $17 and appears to simply slip into the valve cover and hose.  New platinum spark plugs are about $2.25 apiece.  I have no idea how hard it is to change them or what equipment might need to be removed to even access them. If valve adjustment is recommended by the factory at the 50K mile mark, it would definitely be smart to replace the plugs and PCV at that time, however the added labor once the valve covers were off would be negligible. I'm guessing these are stand-alone prices for doing each task separately with no benefit taken from the fact that adjusting the valves covers about 90% of the labor to do the other two tasks. The flat rate manual says xx hours to do the plugs and yy hours to change the PCV.

 

Edited by joe_padavano (see edit history)

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Does it run and drive fine?  If so, then drive it.  If not, fix the problem.  My wife drives a 2002 Acura MDX daily, and I haven't changed any of those items in 17 years or 145k miles.  All I have done are oil changes every 5k miles, brake pads a few times, tires a few times, timing belt at 100k (incredibly important), and a front hub (because it was actually going bad) in that time.

Edited by 39BuickEight (see edit history)

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1 minute ago, 39BuickEight said:

Does it run and drive fine?  If so, then drive it.  If not, fix the problem.

 

Sorry, driving the car until it breaks and ignoring factory service intervals is a good way to prematurely kill a fine car.

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1 minute ago, joe_padavano said:

 

Sorry, driving the car until it breaks and ignoring factory service intervals is a good way to prematurely kill a fine car.

 

Literal interpretations of generalized statements is not a productive way to communicate.

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Trust your independent tech. I think your hunch is partially correct and the dealer is either trying to get you to buy a new car or at least get you to buy some expensive repairs. My wife had a wheel bearing go bad in my Cadillac CTS wagon while she was traveling in Canada, and while the wheel bearing had to be repaired ($1100! Yowch!), they also tacked on a bunch of unnecessary stuff and said they would refuse to let her leave in the car because it was so unsafe to drive. When I got on the phone and asked them to explain what was so unsafe, they said the tires were bad (they were two years old), the brakes were shot, and the exhaust was leaking into the cabin. They said they weren't even confident that the car would make it home and they were very afraid for her safety. Total BS. I'm still driving the car today on those same brakes and exhaust, and just replaced the tires last spring.

 

With many European and Japanese cars, it will behoove you to find a local shop who is familiar with those makes. You might find their work is just as good and their prices are half as much. When I found an Audi tech who could work on my allroad, I was overjoyed and probably saved thousands over the years.

 

The only item I might encourage you to investigate is the timing belt, which can be dicey because they fail all at once without warning. Audi used to say 100,000 miles or 7 years for a timing belt, then revised it a few years ago to 70-80,000 miles and 5 years. It's the kind of thing that you don't ever think about and doesn't give any warning, but if it goes, it typically takes the entire engine with it. Although $1000 can't really be considered cheap insurance, a timing belt is nevertheless cheap insurance. Even if you don't hit the mileage, if you hit the age, it might be time to investigate having it changed. It's rubber like your tires, so it won't last forever no matter how little you drive.

 

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32 minutes ago, 39BuickEight said:

 

Literal interpretations of generalized statements is not a productive way to communicate.

 

Generalized statements are not helpful to a person asking a specific question.

 

And as I pointed out in my first post, I don't own an Acura nor do I know the factory recommended service intervals.  Having owned a Honda previously, I suspect that valve adjustment is required.  When researching on line, there is no published maintenance schedule for this car.  The onboard computer calculates the appropriate maintenance intervals based on driving history and displays codes on the dash.  Depending on how the car was driven, by 60K miles it may require spark plugs, it may require air and cabin filters, and it likely requires transmission fluid and brake fluid changes. 

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Find a competent independent tech and never let him/her go. I would recommend you have him change out the spark plugs. You can get the best plugs going for about $8 each. The problem is that after being in the head (s) since 2006- they take a liking to their homes and don’t like to come out! A good tech knows how to extract them carefully. 

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3 minutes ago, greenie said:

Find a competent independent tech and never let him/her go. I would recommend you have him change out the spark plugs. You can get the best plugs going for about $8 each. The problem is that after being in the head (s) since 2006- they take a liking to their homes and don’t like to come out! A good tech knows how to extract them carefully. 

 

It would not surprise me if the estimate provided by the dealer included contingency to deal with a seized spark plug.

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I sold my 1990 Nissan 300ZX last summer, 160,000 miles on it, ran like a new engine, has never had a plug changed (it carries the individual coil over plugs), nor changes to fuel injection. In my experience, if an engine is running nicely, leave it alone except for checking regularly for leaks, changing oil/filters, and timing belt if it has one (some still have timing chains). 

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I once had a power steering hose come apart at the fitting. Mechanic said it would cost $1500 because they had to pull the motor. This was back in 1988 and the car cost me not much more than that. I fixed the problem myself with a new clip and o-ring. It cost me less than $1.00 and I didn't pull the motor. When mechanics quote a high price, shop around.

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I have heard reports from others of just what you describe, Dr. James:

(1)  Dealers' prices are significantly higher than those of independent mechanics;

Or (2)  Unscrupulous dealers recommend work that doesn't even need to be done.

 

I agree with others:  Go to your trustworthy independent mechanic.

And by the way, we're happy to help car fans of all stripes.

Members here are friendly.

Many cars become collectible before they're 25 years old,

and a reliable Acura should be around long enough to reach that threshold!

Edited by John_S_in_Penna (see edit history)

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In many dealerships the friendly service writer you deal with works on commission. Enough said...

Use an independent garage, that is what I do.

Regards,

Lew Bachman

1957 Thunderbird

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With the brand new or nearly new cars we've purchased in the last 25 years, the general rule was that a fairly extensive/comprehensive maintenance package was scheduled (and genuinely needed) at about 100,000 miles. The aggregate cost was anywhere from $1200 to $2000. This was true of the Chevy S-10, the Chrysler Ton and Country and Subaru Legacy we owned, and a few other cars that we bought with less than 100,000 miles (something to consider when shopping for modern "lower mileage" used cars of 80 or 90 k.) Acura may have that maintenance package scheduled at 50k rather than 100k, but that does kind of seem early compared to other brands. But I don't know about Acura...just giving my experience for comparison.

 

Yes, this seems expensive, but it's in lieu of the regular lower cost maintenance that cars used to need much more often than 100,000 miles. For example, when I started driving, plugs were needed every 10,000, and plug wires maybe every 20 or 30k. Also, brakes seem to last a lot longer now than they did in the past. I'm told the reason plugs and wires cost so much today is because changing them is labor intensive due to lack of accessibility due to smaller and more complicated designs. Don't know if it's true or not, but that's what they say. When all is said and done, it seems like the second mechanic you talked to was more correct than the first, given the mileage on the car, but you should do more research, and really at an Acura forum.  Good luck.

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I had my 2009 Ford ranger in for a smog and  oil change last May.

They told me it passed smog but needed spark plugs, and the whole works because of the high mileage.

The truck had just over 25,000. When I spoke to the manager he said "we notice everything was realty clean".  My next oil change was do at 258,500 miles.

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Even paying for dealer service does not guarantee  proper maintenance.  My wife bought her 2009 Ranger new and had the selling dealer perform recommended maintenance for the first 5 years or so. That included 2 spark plug changes. After about 5 years or so she started to have me do them { I am a licensed Journeyman mechanic} .

  In the course of replacing the spark plugs I noticed the RH. bank were reasonably accessible and the plugs I removed were nearing the end of their life but still not all that bad. I then moved over to the LH. bank, much more difficult to access and it took a fair bit of time to figure out the combination of extensions and universals that would let me get the 3 LH. plugs out.  Once I had them out a very obvious condition difference appeared. They were much more worn than the other 3, in fact some of the most worn I have seen . It became clear that the dealership mechanic had known the 3 LH plugs were a very awkward and time consuming job to change and simply not bothered . A great way to beat flat rate, and very difficult to prove except circumstantially. Needless to say my wife has not returned to that dealership for anything.

 

Greg in Canada

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The problem is that we're car guy's and we know what things, are and what they should cost. I have a new car and must be returned to the dealer for certain items to keep up the warrantee. When I get the bill for service, I notice items like "top off brake fluid", $13, "add anti-freeze", $12, "adjust headlights", $18. Who the heck are they kidding, we all know they don't do any of it. I told the service manager that I checked everything before I took the car in for service and the fluids were fine, and why did he need to adjust factory installed headlights?  He just looked at me and he knew he was caught and he took the items off the bill.

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53 minutes ago, 1912Staver said:

It became clear that the dealership mechanic had known the 3 LH plugs were a very awkward and time consuming job to change and simply not bothered.

 

There's a dealership that needs to go out of business

and a mechanic who should be in jail for fraud.  At least

a notice to your province's Attorney General to document.

You're certainly not the first victim of their dishonesty.

 

Of course, as you say, it may be difficult to prove.

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i had a similar experience with my jeep. it needed a power steering hose(i could see where it was leaking). i got a quote from local firestone shop for 200 bucks and thought that was outragous, so just for fun, i called local jeep dealer. they quoted something just north of 700 bucks. i'm amazed how bad the pricing is at  dealerships. i worked many years at olds, buick, and amc dealers, and the prices we quoted were very fair and competitive. when did it all change? btw, firestone did a nice job.

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Here is an ex-dealer's take on this thread ( I had two service departments with over 20 techs).  First, not all car dealers are the same, nor all technicians, nor all service writers.  Finding a reputable place to do business is always good and word of mouth is one of the best ways.  People in a community tend to know where they are treated well.

 

A new car dealer's overhead is most likely much higher than an independent shop, he may be unionized and his shop rate higher than an independent. In general, I believed our prices were a bit higher than most independent shops but I also know that we had to fix a lot of repairs coming out of a FEW of these shops as it is not easy to know everything about every car.  In addition, independent shops struggle to get the latest technical knowledge from manufacturers.  My regular customers had faith in my technicians (several had been there 30 years) and  they found value in their doing business with us.  

 

Next of course is the issue of factory RECOMMENDED intervals versus the experience many of us have that they are not necessary at the times suggested.  However, failing to heed changing a timing belt is a big issue.  The number one culprit I had during my tenure dealing with a foreign car franchise was timing belts.  It is likely much better these days but I would pay attention on that one.

 

Like in any business, make sure who you are dealing with as their are honest and competent people  and dishonest and incompetent people out there.  

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Ever hear the saying ....."Sock it to the Doc".......Nuff said.............Bob

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On 1/11/2019 at 4:09 PM, 39BuickEight said:

Does it run and drive fine?  If so, then drive it.  If not, fix the problem.  My wife drives a 2002 Acura MDX daily, and I haven't changed any of those items in 17 years or 145k miles.  All I have done are oil changes every 5k miles, brake pads a few times, tires a few times, timing belt at 100k (incredibly important), and a front hub (because it was actually going bad) in that time.

Bill,

 

Thanks for the reply to my wife's 2006 Acura TL.  I did have the timing belt, water pump, belts, hoses, and anti-freeze at the dealership when the car hit 35K miles.  I was told to watch the age of the car, not jus the mileage, before changing those item.  The bill for those repairs was $1200.  I don't object to paying for needed repairs on a good car but I do object to someone trying to take advantage of a good customer who has purchased 3 vehicles at that dealership.  

Someone responded to my question and asked why I was asking for advice on a modern car on the website devoted to antique cars.  I should have posted that I look at this website because I own a prize-winning 57 Chevy Belair Hardtop and a prize winning 66 Mustang that I recently purchased from sunny San Diego.  

Again, thanks for your reply.

 

Dr. J

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I don't really carer for modern cars but asking interesting questions about any car is okay.  I can't believe that you have purchased three cars from these folks and they treat you like that.  I wouldn't be above contacting someone in Acura as they may not take kindly to this kind of behavior.

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The estimates sound high to me, but having not seen the car, I can't really say.

 

On 1/11/2019 at 1:09 PM, 39BuickEight said:

Does it run and drive fine?  If so, then drive it.  If not, fix the problem.  My wife drives a 2002 Acura MDX daily, and I haven't changed any of those items in 17 years or 145k miles.

 

Thats one approach, and it is the way most Americans use cars. Honda/Acura do an excellent job of building for this worst case scenario.

 

On 1/11/2019 at 1:11 PM, joe_padavano said:

Sorry, driving the car until it breaks and ignoring factory service intervals is a good way to prematurely kill a fine car.

 

And that is in my opinion MUCH better advice. (I am a former tech.) IMHO do at least what the maintenance schedule says. Some things might really need to be done more often.

 

On 1/11/2019 at 2:12 PM, greenie said:

Find a competent independent tech and never let him/her go. I would recommend you have him change out the spark plugs. You can get the best plugs going for about $8 each. The problem is that after being in the head (s) since 2006- they take a liking to their homes and don’t like to come out! A good tech knows how to extract them carefully. 

 

True enough. I always installed them with a little anti-sieze, but you have to be careful not to get too much, and to not get it anywhere but the threads.

 

If there is any doubt about seizing or stripping, the engine should be stone cold. They may ask you to leave the car overnight. The plugs are likely platinum or iridium, or at least something goofy. The factory recommendation is *probably* (no, I didn't look it up) to leave them in for 100k miles. If so it may have more to do with EPA regs and fleet TCO than common sense.

 

I suggest springing for the special OE plugs, whatever they are. They could easily be $8 a piece, but you don't do it often. I dislike platinum and other screwball spark plugs, but I think it is a good idea to use them in applications where the car was originally designed with them. Yes, I think 50-60k would be a good time to change them.

 

On 1/11/2019 at 1:57 PM, joe_padavano said:

Having owned a Honda previously, I suspect that valve adjustment is required. 

 

Me too. This is worth finding out. Some Hondas tighten with wear. If the valves get too tight they will burn. If the valves are adjustable I would get this done for sure.

 

IMHO what you should do is take this to an independent shop who specalize in Honda/Acura and get a second opinion. They will be familiar with the factory recommendations, but not bound by them.

 

Fluid changes wouldn't hurt. Especially the brake fluid.

 

Edited by Bloo (see edit history)

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19 hours ago, dr. james said:

Bill,

 

Thanks for the reply to my wife's 2006 Acura TL.  I did have the timing belt, water pump, belts, hoses, and anti-freeze at the dealership when the car hit 35K miles.  I was told to watch the age of the car, not jus the mileage, before changing those item.  The bill for those repairs was $1200.  I don't object to paying for needed repairs on a good car but I do object to someone trying to take advantage of a good customer who has purchased 3 vehicles at that dealership.  

 

Dr. J

 

I think it is probably time for you to find another shop that you can TRUST to do the work on your wife's car. The shop you described would not appear to meet that criteria. 

 

When my old cars were much newer I used to take them to the local dealer. Over time, personnel in the service department came and went and in most cases the knowledge required to fix my cars left with them. At one point I sat down with the service manager as asked him point blank who in his shop had the knowledge and experience to work on my cars (which were then 10-15 years old). His honest answer was that he did not have anyone. That is when I found a small, independent, family owned shop (through word of mouth) that specialized in my brand of vehicle to work on my cars. They had personnel that formerly worked at dealerships and had left them for various reasons. This shop too has had personnel turnover but has continued to hire people with knowledge and experience with both older and newer vehicles. When I cannot fix something or do not want to deal with a problem I could fix I take my old vehicles to them.

 

One thing to keep in mind with dealerships is that they are always having their technicians TRAINED on NEW VEHICLES. They DO NOT spend the time and money to train new service techs on OLD MODELS. Therefore, if the service department does not retain people who were trained on older models, their people may have difficulty servicing those older models. Sadly, friends of mine who are techs in dealerships all tell me the same thing. The are finding that most new techs of a certain age that they work with have real problem solving skill issues. IE, if the diagnostic equipment cannot tell them exactly what is wrong with a vehicle they really struggle with fixing it. Usually that means my friends end up fixing the vehicle since they have more experience and better problem solving skills.

 

Speaking about timing belts on interference engines... With a low mileage car such as your wife's the timing belt maintenance is ALL ABOUT THE AGE and NOT about the MILES. From your post it appears you know that. One of my cars that is 32 years old has an interference engine and it's timing belt is always changed based on time and not miles. The last time it was changed I went longer than normally scheduled (I forgot). Lucky for me I didn't pay a heavy price. When the belt was changed the technician told me I was VERY Lucky as he handed my old belt tensioner to me. As I spun that tensioner in my hands I noticed that it was not moving as freely as it should have and that it was on it's the way to failing. Needless to say I will stay on schedule from now on.

 

Steve M. brings up some good points in his post. While I have personally found that some car dealer service departments over they years did not deserve my trust I can say the same about a few independent shops as well. I also agree with Steve in that some independent shops can struggle keeping up with the new car repair technology. As automakers make the repair of their vehicles more and more proprietary, independent shops may face being locked out of accessing a vehicles ECU which makes repairs more difficult. Friends of mine also have had to fix repairs made on vehicles "fixed" at independent repair shops. Some of their stories are downright scary.

 

On the flip side, I have been using a dealer service department to service my last two modern vehicles. I have found them to be honest and they do good work for a fair price. The last service I had done the service writer took me out to the shop and the technician showed me exactly what the problem was and suggested the repairs. The service writer then gave me a cost estimate to fix it. That is why I stay with them and I have no problem telling owners of this brand that when I am asked about service. BTW, this is not a small dealership service department given their 25+ service techs. 

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