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Old 11-14-2012, 02:19 PM   #1
troidus OP
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Was quoted $550 for two front struts, installed.

2004 Camry LE 2.4 with 96k on it. Struts are leaking oil.

The $550 includes an alignment, but it seems a bit steep. KYB struts are $82 each. The person giving the estimate didn't break it down, but I'd hope it would include new strut bearings, bellows, and jounce snubbers. Anyway, I just want to vent a little. I really don't want to do it myself, but I'd rather put the labor cost into new parts.

I'm thinking I should replace pretty much all the strut components while I have the struts out, especially since I tow with it. The only part that might not be a wear/fatigue item is the strut mount itself (item 7), but not having had it out before, I don't know for sure. Thoughts on that?



The lower ball joints and control arm bushings look OK and don't have detectable slop in them, so I don't think I need to mess with them right now. Same with the wheel bearings.
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Old 11-14-2012, 02:34 PM   #2
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Depends

Depends on the parts they use. I think that sounds like a fair bill for a fair amount of work. How much does an alignment cost by itself?
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Old 11-14-2012, 02:39 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by SilkMoneyLove View Post
Depends on the parts they use. I think that sounds like a fair bill for a fair amount of work. How much does an alignment cost by itself?
I generally see $79 for a 4 wheel alignment.
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Old 11-14-2012, 02:49 PM   #4
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a few years back I found myself in a situation where I needed similar work done, and I lived in an apartment, and was broke. I bought the parts thinking "I'll find someone with room and tools" - that didnt wind up happening, so I approached an instructor for a community college auto shop and they took care of it for me. It's easier for chicks, but with some careful chitchat and a lax timetable, you might be able to arrange the same.
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Old 11-14-2012, 03:07 PM   #5
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I would say that's in the neighborhood of the right price, maybe a little on the high side. I just did a quick search and this person is saying Camry strut mounts (7) are actually known to wear quickly. I can't comment as I'm not a Camry owner personally but thought it might be useful:

http://yipal.blogspot.com/2010/09/ho...ut-mounts.html

As far as I price goes, from experience as a mechanic and loosely basing on an independent shop assumption I broke it down as follows:

Shocks: $82 ea x 2 = $164
Shop Supply Fee: $10
Labor: Probably 2-3 hours book time @ $90 hr, call it in the middle at $225
Alignment: $75
Tax on parts: Ballpark @ $15

Grand Total: $489

As I mentioned they seem to be in the neighborhood, maybe a bit on the high side but I'm just estimating on their hourly rate and what book hours that particular job calls for. I would also be inclined doubt they are replacing anything but the shocks and/or whatever comes with them (which most likely won't be anything). If you decide you want the mount replaced you could always point out to them it adds 0 labor to put new strut mounts on when reassembling so they would only charge for the part.

If it was my car I wouldn't bother replacing the bellows as they rarely need replacing if they haven't been damaged (torn, large hole etc...). The bump stumps are in the same category as the bellows. In my experience you would be just wasting money replacing those items. The strut mounts (again, from the link posted) seem to be a good thing to replace and personally I would do the ball joints before the alignment, especially if they haven't been replaced in the last 80k.

So to sum up, they seem a bit on the high side but not terrible, IMO you shouldn't waste money on the bump stops or bellows and just do the shocks, mounts and ball joints.
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Old 11-14-2012, 03:20 PM   #6
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seems like a fair price. Most of the time shops replace both the struts and and the springs as a unit. If your struts are leaking then that means the springs are most likely sagged as well. Pairs units go for a bit more than 80 some bucks.

If you don't work on your own car, you have pay to have someone else do it for you...
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Old 11-14-2012, 03:42 PM   #7
troidus OP
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Originally Posted by MrPulldown View Post
seems like a fair price. Most of the time shops replace both the struts and and the springs as a unit. If your struts are leaking then that means the springs are most likely sagged as well. Pairs units go for a bit more than 80 some bucks.

If you don't work on your own car, you have pay to have someone else do it for you...
Monroe doesn't make a QuickStrut for my year Camry. That would make short work of the swap. I'd be done in an hour, doing it in my driveway. The only preassembled all-inclusive units I've found are some no-name brand. That could end up being worse than what I have now.

I've been thinking about springs. For that matter, I've been thinking about dealer parts, but then the struts are $120 each ($160 retail) and I end up out about $700 in parts to do everything.

If I do ball joints, I'm going ahead and putting lower control arms in. No sense in not doing it if I've got the whole front end blown apart.

I need a steering rack, too, but I'm not looking forward to that huge chunk of change, either.

At least I have the option of doing it myself. I don't know how anyone can afford a car if they have to hire out all the maintenance and repair.
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Old 11-14-2012, 04:34 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by troidus View Post

If I do ball joints, I'm going ahead and putting lower control arms in. No sense in not doing it if I've got the whole front end blown apart.
To each his own but the ball joints are a 10 minute job that doesn't require anything to be removed except maybe the wheel. I recommended you do them for the following reasons:

1. They aren't very expensive and you are already getting an alignment
2. The car has 100K
3. They will cause a catastrophic failure when they break
4. They are known for breaking (Google Toyota ball joint failure, they also recalled 500,000+ cars for balljoints)
5. They are literally 3 bolts to replace.

I understand wanting to be thorough but from the original post it seemed as though you didn't want to spend the $550 (I wouldn't either) for the shocks to be done by someone else. IMO these are the most cost effective items to do while you were in there since you were getting an alignment and mentioned the car was coming up on 100k. If/when the ball joint fails it's a catastrophic failure as mentioned before, a lower control arm may have a bushing get sloppy but it's not going to cause an accident and leave your car inoperable. If you aren't hearing clanking on bumps or able to see excessive movement (using a pry bar for leverage) the control arm bushings are probably still ok for awhile and you could wait until they are showing signs of being loose. The ball joint may or may not make noise but when it breaks it snaps and there is no warning. Again, this is my opinion based on experience but it's cheap insurance for the damage it can cause.

macd7919 screwed with this post 11-14-2012 at 04:42 PM
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Old 11-14-2012, 08:32 PM   #9
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Those look pretty easy to change. Unbolts from knuckle. Buy a couple of strut compressors, crank them down, use air gun, run off nut to top of strut, removed pieces, put strut on vise, large channel locks to spin of retaining cap, remove cartridge, viola! Reverse order. Probably will not change alignment settings by doing this. Did them on my wife's Audi not too long ago.
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Old 11-15-2012, 12:35 PM   #10
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I just did the struts on my '03 Sienna -- which shares the drivetrain with the Camry.

You definately need to replace the strut mounts and bearings. They're a really bad design that uses the strut mount as the upper bearing race, and doesn't seal the bearings or races... so they're exposed to road crap from the moment they're driven off the lot. Mine with 115K miles fell apart when I removed them, dumping pitted ball bearings and rust dust on the shop floor.

I'd recommend staying away from Monroe shocks and struts. In my experience, they only last a couple of years. For just a little more money, you can have KYB, or Boge -- for a lot more Bilstein -- and they'll last another 10 years or 100K miles.

Good luck.
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Old 11-15-2012, 01:19 PM   #11
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Thanks. I've been hearing and feeling a thump on low-speed bumps, so I know I've got some slop somewhere. Cradle bolts are tight, as is the exhaust, and I can feel some wander like my old Chevelles would get when the steering linkage was worn.
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Old 11-15-2012, 01:38 PM   #12
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Buddy of mine had to have all four of his replaced on his '04 Sienna with 120K miles. He got pricing all over, and the lowest quote was $900, so that $550 is in the ballpark.

Harbor Freight sells a spring compressor cheap if you dare to try replacing them yourself. I watched one guy do it, and it looks like a pain in the ass if you've never done it before.
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Old 11-15-2012, 02:28 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Green427 View Post

Harbor Freight sells a spring compressor cheap if you dare to try replacing them yourself. I watched one guy do it, and it looks like a pain in the ass if you've never done it before.
The key being if you've never done one before. Working with a pro the first time(s) to understand the dangers of compressing the springs are paramount.

The struts I've replaced weren't that bad of a job really. I used KYB's -2's on my MX-6 Turbo, and was happy with them.
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Old 11-15-2012, 03:08 PM   #14
troidus OP
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I've changed suspension springs before, just not on struts. Shouldn't be a huge deal.
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Old 11-15-2012, 03:31 PM   #15
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Sounds about right, unfortunately. Shop prices are why I always do all of my own repairs. That, and I would rather not have to hope that the kid at the shop knows what he's doing and doesn't cut corners.

FWIW, I always replace the strut mounts along with the struts. They're not usually terribly expensive and it's cheap insurance. Also, you can usually take your strut, spring, and mount to a shop to have them put together if you don't want to mess with the spring compressors. There is an independent parts store/machine shop near me that has a press and will do it for about $25.
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