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Major repairs to be done this week

863 Views 15 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  bdcochran
16 years with a Toyota Avalon and only 113,000 miles. Things are wearing out.

Not having a second car or a second driver with a second car and not having a lift, I have cultivated a local and excellent mechanic who bought his shop from a guy who used to be my mechanic. His shop gets delivery of fresh fruit from my 15 trees.

I had the right outer tie rod replaced last week because I had a slight shake in the steering wheel at low speed. Now corrected.

My area has a multitude of speed bumps. Anticipating the alignment challenge I bought lifetime alignment with Firestone. Such has saved me money. Now comes the hard part. Despite lubing the rubber seals with AT205 at every oil change, I have a leaky seal on the right front axle. The lower control arms need to be replaced and perhaps 2 motor mounts. Motor mounts are supposed to get only 5-7 years. I got 14 years on the front mount and the transmission mount. Now it is 16 years for the other two mounts.

The good news? The transmission is fine. I did a high speed tuneup on the fuel injectors and engine a couple of weeks ago and cured the "check engine" light. .

Post script. I drove my brother's 2020 Lexus for a few days when I visited him. Outstanding car with oversized mirrors and traffic warning signals. Great screen to view things.
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
good luck with the repairs... oh, and you know you just cursed the tranny...
20 years ago I had a conversation with a Ford Service Manager. His facility had way more than 30 bays. I asked what were the three things a customer should watch in addition to the oil changes.

His response? He immediately said "oil change". When your sister-in-law buys a new car, never does an oil change, ignores the computerized light, and the car burns up on the freeway, I fully understood why he started with "oil change".

Years later, I asked the same question of a tire dealer. He related that he had a friend who would lease cars and never do an oil change. Guy didn't care! The cars were leased.

I learned about transmissions when I had to sit in Barstow, CA in the summer for a week years ago because a fan motor had gone out and terminated the transmission. I have the specialty fluid and a transmission filter waiting in my garage for the next draining.
 

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His response? He immediately said "oil change". When your sister-in-law buys a new car, never does an oil change, ignores the computerized light, and the car burns up on the freeway, I fully understood why he started with "oil change".
I bought a 71 International harvester PU that had probably been a .gov fleet vehicle before the owner before me. I don't think the previous owner ever changed the oil or used any high quality oil. I made the mistake of changing the oil with the best available at the time, it cleaned out all of the crud in the engine and that blocked all of the oil return lines.
A mechanic friend of mine removed the valve covers and each one dumped about two quarts of oil. Changing oil is a good thing. Buying a truck where the oil has not been changed in years is a mistake. The seals on the crankshaft started leaking after that and it just got worse.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I should have captioned the thread:: Saga of the Avalon.
1. tires. Front wheel drive. Replacing two tires eliminated slipping. Warranty on remaining two tires expires in October. I will have a few 500 mile runs before then. Hoping the remaining two tires are worn enough to be covered.

2. transmission. Running fine. Always serviced fluid more often than factory recommended. Will have a 500 mile drive this week and then service the fluid. Have a filter on hand if metal particles are found.

3. Other recent major repairs. Replaced lower control arms. The progressive installation of speed bumps in my area finally took its toll. Replaced front right axle. Car runs fine.

4. check engine light. A couple of what are called "Italian tuneups" had turned it off. Back on again. Has been checked. If it goes out again this week, I will probably need to do a fuel injector no disassembly service if it does not pass smog. The last time, 5 ears ago, it was a bad injector and replaced them, keeping the good injectors. High quality OEM fuel injectors are like high quality OEM spark plugs. The first time around in replacement, it is so expensive to replace just one, you keep the good ones and simply replace them all the first time.

5. Motor mounts. Keeping an eye on them. Replaced one of them two years ago. The remaining two have lasted longer than they should.
 

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As you say, things will wear out after 16 years and 113k miles, even on otherwise reliable vehicles. Price to pay for owning any vehicle, but especially one that's paid for. If you are lucky, the fixes will happen one at a time over a few months rather than all at once. But compare that with new car cost, sales tax, probable increased insurance (I drop collision coverage).

You are lucky to have a good mechanic. As you are doing, keep him happy and his business going strong by buying parts from him that might cost more than Walmart's.

I drive them until they either rust through structural parts or need a repair that quadruples the value of a vehicle that's leaving piles of rust on the driveway. But I have the luxury of owning a 2nd vehicle 11 years younger that I take on long trips. Since you only have one vehicle, reliability becomes an issue. On the other hand new vehicles have recalls and more electronic sensors and 'puters to go bad.

You've already blundered big time by driving that 2020 so the buy bug has infected you. Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
But compare that with new car cost, sales tax, probable increased insurance (I drop collision coverage).
Ok. Here are the numbers. Low end, private sale - value is $5000.
If I bought the same car, new, the sales tax would be over $3000.
Let's exclude the insurance required by financial people and the first year's registration fee.
A factory rebuilt transmission is over $3000, not including the labor.
A transmission drain and new filter is maybe $200 if you are not doing anything else.
The family owned 3 more cars of the same model and they lasted over 225,000 miles.

External appearance of the car? Road rash, parking lot rash. Would happen to a new car in a heartbeat. Happened to girl friend's new leased car. So, why buy a new car for appearances sake?

I used to have seatbelts repaired by a guy who is long since died. I fixed mine with a safety pin.

I had seat tears repaired by a guy who specialized. Didn't last. Now I use patch material and a seat cover.

I drive through Beverly Hills and see all the expensive cars. They have to stop at the same stop lights and stop signs that I stop at. Their car repair bills are enormous. Once I worked with two guys who insisted that they had to drive Mercedes cars to impress people. This was 20 years ago and because of the design of the car, it was costing them $1000 for an oil change - and they were constantly going with a secretary to the discount repair center to pick up their cars.
 

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You’ve mentioned the check engine light as a recurring problem. Did you know that the light is just a prompt for you, your parts store, or your mechanic to obtain the error code or codes? You can buy a code reader and learn how to use it, you can go to a friendly parts store chain and have them scan for codes, and certainly, any mechanic should scan for codes as soon as he sees the light.
After regular and frequent oil & filter changes, a code reader is how you keep a car running 15 years on the cheap.
 

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I have a friend who has sold used cars for over 30 years. He said he gave his sister an Avalon with 100K miles on it several years ago. She suffers from some mental illness and put 200K miles on it in one year, just driving where the wind blows her.
He said she stopped by to see him one day and hadn't changed the oil in 100K miles. He changed it and the transmission fluid and she drove it another 100K at least. When he told me that story, she was just over 300K miles and still goin0g with no major failures.
For his money, he said Avalon was the best used car to buy based on this and his other car selling experiences.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Finally finished the repairs. 3 motor mounts, lower control arms, right front axle, 4 new Michelin tires, alignment (free, have lifetime), tie rod end. Reasonably priced. Helps when you make a point of feeding your good mechanic with seasonal fruits (have 15 trees).

Even with an appointment and confirming that the motor mounts were at the mechanic, it was 7 hours until the work started - and stopped 5 minutes later. The broken motor mount was frozen within a larger piece and had go a machine shop overnight. I relate this because you need to anticipate this kind of a problem. I got in my daily walk, finished reading two books, made some notes on a pad. ALWAYS have a book to read, a pen and a pad of paper. Your wait time at the mechanic, the doctor or the dentist will be somewhat productive.
1. yes, I know to remove a motor mount. The problem is that I don't have a second driver, a second car or a lift at home. Similarly, I know that my catalytic converter is bolted on and not welded on. However, if I were to remove it at home tnd the bolt was bad . . . . Incidentally, if you are ever told that you need a new catalytic converter, try this first. Run the old one through a soapy water solution, dry it and try it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I finally went in for the smog check this week. Failed. Replaced three hoses after doing a smoke test. Passed.

Headlight went out immediately after passing smog. Years ago, I had replaced the halogen with leds. Bought the halogen replacements. When a car gets really old, when you have no spare driver, no spare car, no spare ride, and the parts store is 2 miles away, you go to your mechanic. It took two guys to replace the bulbs. Afterwards, I cleaned the original headlight plastic with brake fluid, washed it off, dried and used a plastic sealer polish. Ok. Replacement Taiwanese headlight assemblies would have been $161 plus tax and still have to be cleaned and sealed every three months or 4 months. I park outside.
 

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16 years with a Toyota Avalon and only 113,000 miles. Things are wearing out.

Not having a second car or a second driver with a second car and not having a lift, I have cultivated a local and excellent mechanic who bought his shop from a guy who used to be my mechanic. His shop gets delivery of fresh fruit from my 15 trees.

I had the right outer tie rod replaced last week because I had a slight shake in the steering wheel at low speed. Now corrected.

My area has a multitude of speed bumps. Anticipating the alignment challenge I bought lifetime alignment with Firestone. Such has saved me money. Now comes the hard part. Despite lubing the rubber seals with AT205 at every oil change, I have a leaky seal on the right front axle. The lower control arms need to be replaced and perhaps 2 motor mounts. Motor mounts are supposed to get only 5-7 years. I got 14 years on the front mount and the transmission mount. Now it is 16 years for the other two mounts.

The good news? The transmission is fine. I did a high speed tuneup on the fuel injectors and engine a couple of weeks ago and cured the "check engine" light. .

Post script. I drove my brother's 2020 Lexus for a few days when I visited him. Outstanding car with oversized mirrors and traffic warning signals. Great screen to view things.

Motor mounts last much longer than 5-7 years. No sure who told you that bs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
2 of the motor mounts lasted since 2004. You live in Goshen, Ct. We are certainly on the cutting edge in southern Ca, if not the frame/motor mount destruction edge. We have a plethora of speed bumps called "traffic quieting". If you drive over 7 mph in a fire truck, the frame of a fire truck is broken. I try to get down to the posted 15 mph. A one block section has 4 speed bumps. Another has 3. And these are two blocks, back to back.

Tire Wheel Vehicle Automotive parking light Window
 
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