By on April 26, 2011

I got the call yesterday from a friend of mine. His long-serving 1999 Land Cruiser V8, purchased new and driven well past the 150K-mile mark, had a bad alternator. Could I pick him up at the dealer? Sure could.

The fellow I picked up was a lot more annoyed than the relatively calm fellow who had pulled his Cruiser into the Toyota service bay. The prospect of losing an alternator after twelve years didn’t bother him in the slightest. Instead, it was what had happened when the service writer called his name…

“It’s a bad alternator,” the man from Toyota had explained. “The part is expensive, kinda… $937. Because it’s a Land Cruiser. They’re all expensive and stuff, you know.” Little did he know that my friend had used his Blackberry to check the price of a “Genuine Toyota” alternator while waiting in the service lounge. Would you believe that it was available from multiple sources for $241? A rather heated exchange followed the disclosure of this knowledge.

Put yourself in my friend’s shoes. Would you have your Cruiser towed somewhere else for the repair, after verifying pricing at the aforementioned somewhere else? Would you try to supply your own alternator to this dealer? Would you just trade it in on a new Land Cruiser, which given the relative excellence of the ’99 and ’11 models would be a lot like trading a vinyl copy of Rubber Soul for a Pipes Of Peace CD? Would you call the Toyota regional rep? The franchise owner?

My suggestion: have it fixed, sell it to one of the people out there who are willing to pay five figures for twelve-year-old Cruisers, and buy a Ford Raptor Crew Cab. What’s yours?

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95 Comments on “Ask The Best And Brightest: Welcome To The (Toyota Parts) Jungle...”


  • avatar
    Acubra

    I honestly doubt the whole sense of bringing a 12-year old vehicle to an official dealership in the first place.    

    • 0 avatar
      86er

      Indeed.  You and your friend need to run, run far away.

      (Oh man, I would’ve had such a good “get the hell out of Dodge” pun if this had been a Chrysler product…)

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        Yup.  Good Independent Mechanic.  Worth his weight in GOLD, PLATINUM, URANIUM, or the precious material of your choice.  Any man with a good spouse and a good independent mechanic should always be smiling.

      • 0 avatar
        z350

        Oh what a feeling!

        Who could ask for anything more?!

      • 0 avatar
        tekdemon

        I too am pretty confused why he brought the car to the dealership to begin with, they’re always going to have much higher costs for parts.  Even the local independent shops with parts operations always mark up their parts by 100% or so.

        Since his friend was smart enough to be able to look up the cost of parts to begin with I’d have taken it to a completely independent mechanic I trusted and sourced a replacement part.  It’s definitely more of a hassle if you’ve already towed it to the dealership though, but that’s the kind of markup I would have expected before ever setting foot there.

        Depending on the complexity and the equipment you have available you could even consider doing the work yourself. Of course the downside of that is that if you have no garage and limited equipment you’re a lot more likely to get stuck or screw something up trying to DIY. Sometimes they’re pretty silly problems but if it’s your only car you’re kind of up the river even if you just need another $10 part. Usually I do the easy stuff myself and leave anything that’s best done with proper equipment to a trustworthy independent since I don’t have a garage of my own.

      • 0 avatar
        cstoc

        +1.  I would have taken it home and replaced the alternator myself.   I did this a couple of years ago when my new, still-warranted Honda Accord had all 4 brakes go bad at 14k miles.  The dealer quoted nearly $500 and blamed my wife for being hard on brakes.  I took it home, replaced the pads and front rotors (they were too worn to machine true).  Not only do they work better than the OEM brakes, they’ve so far gone twice the miles with little sign of wear.  What a racket.

  • avatar
    aristurtle

    For a twelve-year-old car? That “genuine Toyota” new alternator might be $241.00, but if I pull one from Crazy Ray’s junkyard, it’ll be $15.75, plus the $1 admission. And if I can’t replace the alternator in my garage, I’ll probably bring the thing to said junkyard instead.

  • avatar
    Hoser

    Tow it down the street to an independent.  There’s nothing magical about a 12-year old Toyota that requires mad dealer-trained skills to replace an alternator.

  • avatar
    Disaster

    I’m with Acubra, 10 year old vehicles and dealers are not a good mix.  In fact, anything out of warranty is usually not something you want to take to a dealer.

  • avatar
    Robstar

    I think this is why most people HATE dealers.  I’ve never been to a dealer for out-of-warranty issues.  Absolutely no reason.
    My local indy has kept my econobox running (a dodge/plymouth one at that!) for 11 years+ and 200k miles.  The one time I needed a bunch of work done for parts & labor he quoted me ~ $800-$900.  I called 2 dealerships and the cheapest one was $2100….um NO.  If the dealership were 10-20% more expensive, maybe there is some added value — better parts warranty or something else.  But twice as much ???
    My local indy will let me bring my own parts if I can source them cheaper as well…

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      I have a similar situation with my mechanic. He does the stuff I can’t or don’t have time for, and will use my parts when I bring them in.

    • 0 avatar
      tekdemon

      I have an even more hilarious quote.  One time some genius rear ended me and I estimated that it’d be about $600-800 of work tops-that $800 estimate was already the high end including a really nice bumper paint job and some minor straightening out of the rear end with a puller.  So I go around town to get a few quotes and got several shops claiming that they couldn’t give me an estimate until they were working on my car (which is complete bullsh*t, all the legitimate shops I’ve ever been to have been able to provide a reasonably accurate quote after thoroughly looking at the car), but then the dealership was the most hilarious of all.  The guy there claimed that my car would cost $8000 to fix-and I kid you not, he actually provided a printout including the labor and parts costs estimates which were amazing.  We’re talking about double digit hours of labor for stuff like painting and mounting a bumper.  Then he goes up to my car, puts his hand on one of the lines the designers had put in the car and claimed that this must have been from damage to the frame causing the crease.  Nevermind that we’re standing in a dealership lot with maybe 100 other identical cars with the exact same crease, this guy managed to say this with a straight face.

      That was seriously the most sociopathic thing I’ve *ever* seen, this guy had no shame or remorse of any kind spewing this sort of bullcrap.  Of course I finally found a legitimate shop willing to give me a quote and of course it came out to only about $650 when your quote doesn’t include 30 hours of labor for painting a single bumper.

      I will say that this particular dealership service center was affiliated with a Toyota dealership but they also sell all the Chrysler brands, Hyundai, Kia, VW, Porsche, Subaru, Volvo and Mazda so I don’t blame any particular brand but it doesn’t really help the image of any of those brands when customers have to deal with these thieves.

      Honestly, if you own an older car I’d definitely spend a bit of time going around just asking for random quotes to get an idea of the honest shops. Figure out which mechanics are legitimate and which collision shops are legitimate, etc.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        “32 grand?! That doesn’t sound right. Did he even look at the car?”

        “Yeah. I mean over the phone, yeah. He says that it sounded like the hobbit that turns the crankcase is depressed and needs therapy. We need to get us a new hobbit. They’s from the Land Beyond Time. Land Beyond Time is also gonna hook us up with a unicorn for the radiator. I ain’t even gonna tell ya about that haunted air conditioner. Plus, the air filter? That’s made of plutonium. That’s gonna involve Superman, so…ya know, plus shipping from Krypton. And the cow..jumped over the moon.”

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        @tekdemon, you reminded me of the time my father’s mid 90s Bonneville was backed into at church by the daughter of a family friend.  The family immediately offered to set things right so my dad went around and got a few quotes including one from his cousin who owns an independent body shop.  My father went with the low bid from a shop (not his cousin) recommended by his insurance company.  His cousin was pretty miffed and told him; “Well you didn’t tell me what number I had to beat.”

      • 0 avatar
        morbo

        Ajla

        +1 on the ATHF reference.

        #1 in the hood, G.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    I’d shrug my shoulders at what is S.O.P. for your average dealer service department and find myself an independent shop.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    Pipes Of Peace
    I didn’t realize anyone admitted to listening to that dreg.  That was when I fell off the McCartney fandom screen.  No regrets. 

  • avatar
    cheapthrills

    I’m extremely cheap, do all my own work, and refuse to admit that mechanics have the upper hand.  I’d:
    -refuse the service
    -buy a new battery at Wal-Mart
    -drive it to a parking lot
    -buy the $241 alternator
    -swap in alternator in parking lot
    -return new battery to Wal-Mart, saying it didn’t fit.
    -have my friend write an article about almost getting gypped $696

  • avatar
    dswilly

    $122 @ O’ Reilly auto parts w lifetime warranty

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    I had a Toyota dealer once try to charge me $804 for DIAGNOSING a vehicle. This was way back in Y2K. 

    What he just mentioned doesn’t surprise me at all. It would be worthwhile to mention the specific dealer in question and have them bring up a rebuttal. I will start this process by mentioning mine was COBB COUNTY TOYOTA, 2111 Barrett Lakes Blvd • Kennesaw, GA 30144 Phone # 770-422-8555

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Dang, Pep Boys usually credits me the diagnosis if I get the vehicle fixed there.  ($20 diagnostic, $300 dollar repair – $20 diagnosis = thanks for coming in today.)

      • 0 avatar
        tekdemon

        The local pep boys here like to exaggerate what your car needs though, and one time they tried to charge my friend like $80 to get a code read.  Definitely not cool.

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        Well you do have to have a little knowledge and of course just like car dealers, no two franchises are alike.  My Pep Boys even steered me to the best trans re-builder in the area.  (You’re welcome, Ex-wife, who is still driving the car.)

      • 0 avatar
        Felis Concolor

        $80 for a code dump? That would be a good reason to push my face right into theirs and laugh loud and long if I was still driving an 80s and later Chryco product: a simple on-off-on-off-on ignition switch flip triggers the full error code dump, giving you a complete list of what the system’s caught since the last major service and module reset. I remember a 12 followed by a 34 indicated charging system trouble and a low battery voltage although I can’t remember which is which right now: there are sites online and from the FWD Mopar fan forums which provide full lists of the diagnostic code pairs. Once the flashing lamp on the dashboard read 55, you knew the code dump was complete.
         
        I often encountered a lot of nasty behavior from dealer service centers during my Omni’s warranty repair period as I would show up with a full list of code numbers and what they indicated was wrong. They were still in the adversarial mindset and anything which indicated intelligence on the part of the consumer was a major threat to them.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      @Steve: 20 years ago I worked in South East Toyota Distributors land; I’m sorry to see little has changed…
       

    • 0 avatar
      Felis Concolor

      And here I was pissed that Windward Dodge’s parts counter guys would cut a slit in the Mopar catalogs and remove the racer’s net price list, the better to hide their doubling or tripling of the actual price depending on what they wanted for their own pockets or if someone they didn’t like wanted the spin-on oil cooler and they needed to make another boat payment.

      Nice to be reminded that no matter the brand’s popularity or reputation for quality and customer service, you can encounter slimeballs and predators at any service or parts counter.

      One of the reasons I’m fixing up a car here to deliver to friends in Utah is the tyranny of small town auto repair rackets. Being quoted $600+ for a simple diagnostics is criminal: the lowest they were quoted “just to see what’s wrong with it” was still over $500 and that shop wouldn’t apply it to the actual fix.

    • 0 avatar
      dartman

      Mr. Lang I officially dub thee my hero of the day…I have always said I would rather deal with a used car dealer ANY day of the year rather than ANY commercial real estate broker, residential real estate broker, new car dealer, attorney or corporate executive…keep on kicking ass and naming names my friend. In my 53+ years oI have bought and sold probably close to 20-30 vehicles, approximately half of them with used car/truck dealerships; I almost always left the used lots feeling content with my transaction; sometimes I ate the bear; sometimes the bear ate me; but I at least felt like I had a fighting chance…I have NEVER bought a new car or truck with out experiencing some buyer’s remorse and feeling like I had been abused to some extent.

  • avatar
    A Caving Ape

    Isn’t that the first and biggest lesson of our-of-warranty car ownership? Don’t even consider the dealer. Just for grins I got a dealer quote for the timing belt/water pump job on my Jetta when it was due… $1450. My local independent shop got me out the door for $780.

  • avatar
    mopar4wd

    Just looked it up OEM toyota MSRP $314.33 part #270605025084. Looks like its the same one used in the 4.7 Tundra (not LC specific). That sir is a rip. I would have it towed out of there if it were me. (actually I would do the work myself in the parking lot) As before mentioned I would recommend finding a good independant.

  • avatar
    Verbal

    Dealership service is set up to do one thing: remove and replace under warranty.  Warranty repairs are a huge cash cow for them.

    • 0 avatar
      TR4

      I’d add one more thing:  screw the out-of-warranty customers so they will be encouraged to buy new.

      • 0 avatar
        turbobrick

        That’s a good angle on it. People would just assume that it’s that expensive to own an older car, and that car payment starts to look really good.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      I can assure you that everyone at every dealer service facility would rather perform customer pay work than warranty. Warranty is something that is done because it’s the franchised dealer. Is the work overpriced? Usually. That doesn’t mean that they don’t want your business. I have also seen prices higher at the independent shop I worked at then at the MB dealer.

  • avatar
    william442

    I would not have gone to the dealer. I would go to the net, get one, and let the 15 year old install it.

  • avatar
    1996MEdition

    Was he afraid of getting grease on his purse?

    If you are going to own a twelve yr old car then you should also know how to do the maintenance.  Alternators, starters, brakes, water pumps are the reality of owning a low cost vehicle.  Makes no economic sense to have someone do the work.  Taking it to a dealer or even an independent to change an alternator?????  Really????  Buy a $19.95 Chilton’s manual, check online forums or look for a manual at the library.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      Register on Auto Zone’s website, buy the part and they have the step-by-step directions to help install it!

    • 0 avatar
      GiddyHitch

      Makes no economic sense to have someone do the work.

      It makes sense if you put a premium on your free time, aren’t set up for wrenching, and/or have no desire to get elbows deep into your engine bay.  I used to do most of my own maintenance, but as I’ve grown older, my paycheck has steadily increased while my free time has steadily decreased.  I happily pay my trusted independent mechanics to maintain my fleet.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Some of us have better things to do.

      • 0 avatar
        WRohrl

        Changing an alternator takes less time than going to the dealer with the tow truck, and getting someone to take you home and then back once it’s done.  Including the trip to Autozone or wherever to pick up the in-stock part…Doing the repair also lets you feel like the man you think you are by driving a Land Cruiser in the first place. 

  • avatar
    Quentin

    I certainly wouldn’t recommend trading it in on a $40k pickup truck.  His first year’s worth of depreciation will buy 6 alternators from this dealer. 

  • avatar
    turbobrick

    This is why majority of new car dealers suck: Parts have an MSRP but they get to name their own price for it. I will not set foot at my local Volvo dealership unless in a dire emergency because they seem to triple the MSRP for their parts. Instead I do business with a dealership in Ann Arbor that sells parts online for a reasonable markup. My local Mitsubishi dealer was the same. Fan control module had a list price of $93, they wanted $140. A dealer in Dallas sold it to me for $75 and I gladly paid for the S&H.
     
    It’s a great business model because you have a captive audience in your service bay and you can ask for anything. How many people really know the prices, and how many of those who do are just going to suck it up this time?

    • 0 avatar
      1996MEdition

      PT Barnum summed it up well.

      My neighbors, both college educated and successful in their careers yet neither know which end of a screwdriver is the useful one, are always paying pros to do even the smallest work.  I finally piped up when I learned they were going to pay an electrician to change out all the cover plates on their outlets and switches.  They had no idea that they could do it themselves.  Maybe that’s also why they don’t have any kids?

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        Maybe that’s also why they don’t have any kids?

         
        Tab A into Slot B repeatedly.  Been working for centuries.  After you get the basics down then get creative.
         
        God even though I have a Master’s Degree I’m so happy that I’m still what my ex-wife called “an educated redneck.”

      • 0 avatar

        A friend of my son gave me a lift to the credit union. As he pulled out of the parking lot, I noticed his oil light flashed on as he turned. I told him that he needed oil immediately, that he was two or three quarts low and sucking air. He replied, “I’ll take it to my guy”, meaning his mechanic. I reiterated that he needed oil immediately and that we should stop at KMart on the way and pick up a couple of quarts. Again, “I’ll take it to my guy.” When we stopped at my house, I popped the hood and showed him the bone dry dipstick, but alas, “I’ll take it to my guy”.
         
        Some folks are just intimidated by anything technical or mechanical. But that’s not nearly as bad as the college educated folks who think they are too smart to do anything mechanical. I used to work for a sprinkler contractor. We’d have customers who’d take off from their $200/billable hour lawyer’s job to come home so they could “supervise” a team that  they were paying $65/hr to turn on the system because they were too lazy and too superior to change the positions of 5 valves and program a clock.

  • avatar
    92golf

    Incredible dealer markup aside, what I’ve also noticed is that parts prices are different if you buy the part at the parts counter to take away or if you have the dealer install it.
    A $200 part at the counter becomes a $300 dollar part if the dealer installs it (before adding in the labour cost).

  • avatar
    Russycle

    Why even tow it?  Ask the dealer to charge the battery, an hour on a quick charger should get you enough juice for one start and a short drive to an independent shop.  Of course, that Toyota electricity is probably real spendy….

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    Jack I hope you kicked his ass before letting him in your car for going to a dealer in the first place?!?

  • avatar
    Jeffer

    I recently had a similar experience with my old Rav4, looking underneath, I noticed the back of the engine block was a little oily. Dealer diagnosed it as power steering pump seal leaking and quoted around $1000 to fix. The pump isn’t hard to change, the procedure can be found online, and the dealer price for the pump… Autoparts Online wants $241.00 for the pump. I don’t mind spending a saturday getting greasy to save $750.00.

  • avatar
    George B

    I’d never go to a dealer for an out-of-warranty repair.  Its insanely expensive and you don’t get to talk to the real mechanic who turns the wrench.  The damn service advisor is just a service department salesman who earns a living based on his ability to upsell.

    If a friend was in this situation, I would recharge the battery, get an alternator from one of several auto parts stores, have the friend drive to an honest independent mechanic, and get the mechanic to install the aftermarket alternator.

  • avatar
    panzerfaust

    I’d have changed the damn thing myself in the first place, and the belts while I was at it.  And on a 12 year old vehicle, get a warrarntied aftermarket brand and save another 100.00 or so, maybe more if there’s an exchange for re-manufactured item. 

  • avatar
    ajla

    If your friend is regularly going to own 10+ year old vehicles, then gaining some DIY skills is probably a good idea.  Getting to work on a Land Cruiser (even a 100-series) sounds pretty enjoyable.
     
    If for whatever reason he can’t/won’t do his own work, then keep it away from dealers.

  • avatar

    Even if I agree that an out of warrantee car should never come near a stealership I wonder why this should be the case and why this seems to be acceptable. You should not get ripped off, you should get first class service at a competetive price. In the case above I would have called the police and filed a charge for attempt to robbery, no, I would probably have towed it away and would have called the representative some offensive words.

    One of the last times I had a service at a stealership I had a warrantee Toyota. They charged me for 4,2 qt of fully synthetic (and it is 23 usd/qt here in Europe!!) because 4,2 qt is what the book says. But 4,2 qt might be true in Yappanoto when the engine is new and completely dry. I know that there is no way you could fill it more than with 3,9 qt. Next time I brought them the oil and told them to use that, and I got the container back. And there ws still some left in it.

    I guess that they would call the police if I stole something at the premises, for shoplifting. But we, the customers shall accept to be ripped off!

    What is great here in Sweden is that if you have a vehicle still under warranty you can go to an independent or even do the service yourselves. The warranty is still valid, that’s the law. If the car breaks down the dealer will have to prove that the break down is because the service has not been made according to the proper standard.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      $23 a quart is a ridiculous price, but the fact that they added an extra 0.3 quarts over what your dipstick reads isn’t something to complain about. Book says 4.2 quarts, so put 4.2 quarts in and call it good. A dry engine would take more than an extra 0.3 quarts, so obviously the number is for a drain and fill. It’s more likely that your dipstick is a bit off than that the book is inaccurate. A 0.3 quart overfill is a non-issue anyway.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Rubber Soul? That was an O.K. album in 1965 –  I have the CD, but couldn’t tell you when was the last time I listened to it, but, like the Toyota, it’s seriously out-of-date, rather a relic of the last century. Record-wise, the Beatles never topped “Sgt. Pepper”, and I was never much of a Beatles fan anyway. If you like your old Toyota, tow it to an independent shop and fix it, fix it yourself or get rid of it if you have the financial means to buy something better.

    • 0 avatar

      Sgt. Pepper is fun and a cultural artifact of an age, but Rubber Soul, Revolver and Yesterday & Today are their best works.  Lots of good musicians have three albums that stand above the rest. The Rolling Stones’ three: Beggar’s Banquet, Sticky Fingers, Exile on Main Street. The Grateful Dead’s three: Workingman’s Dead, American Beauty, and Live Dead.
       
      As for being a “relic of the last century” can you name an album released in the past 10.5 years that transcends Rubber Soul?

  • avatar
    SunnyvaleCA

    I’m a little confused as to why the person got into the position of needing a tow truck.

    When the vehicle didn’t start, wouldn’t the first idea be to get a jump start?  Then you notice that the headlights are a bit dim (or maybe you even have a charge gauge that is showing no charging). So, you either replace the battery and/or put the existing battery on a charger overnight.  In either case, you’d be fine driving to the dealer.  If you ran down the battery enough at the dealer, you should be just a jump-start away from being able to drive it off the lot.

  • avatar

    The last time I took my car to the dealer they said that the front brake pads needed replacing and quoted me $200 parts + $200 labor. And that’s why it was the last time I went to the dealer.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Rock Auto ~$175, Chilton’s book ~$20, misc tools ~$25 max.  Total ~$220.
     
    Or just get the alternator, and pay your neighbor a case of beer to install it.  You’ll still come in under $220.  Better yet, drink some of the beer while he does the work.  You’ll be happier and wealthier in the end.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Your friend should have used his Blackberry to make a call to the consumer affairs reporter at a TV station, and talk just loudly enough so that the customers waiting in the lounge could hear.

    I  bet that price would have come down pretty quickly after that.

  • avatar
    daro31

    You guys all think the markup at the dealership is bad, and it is, but if you knew what the OEM pays from his supplier and then marks it up to you would go crazy. I can use the real names now because the OEM has gotten out of the car business so I will. I was a quality technician at Siemens Automotive, we made engine cooling fan motors for Chrysler. We sold the original part as OEM to the factory for a Chrysler New Yorker for $12.42 Canadian, and to afternmarket for $16.80. This was in 2006.

    My father was in Florida and the engine cooling motor burned up and took the plastic fan with it, the fan cost us $2.33 at our plant someties we put it with the motor into a cooling module.

    The Chrysler dealer in Vero Beach Florida charged him $468.00 for the motor and $96.00 for the fan. And another $400.000 to install it all. Any wonder I can’t figure out why the auto companies need bailout money, when they have markups like that.     

    • 0 avatar
      jjster6

      That’s the quality guys story.  Now here’s the finance guys.  That original part cost so little because Siemens was making 2000 a day.  5 years later when the factory wants service parts they want to buy 200.  It costs $20,000 to set up the plastic presses.  Do the math.  Set up costs alone are $100 a part when buying in small quantities (all these numbers are just examples).  Point is, service parts cost WAY MORE to make.

      The guy with the Land Cruiser is still gettting hosed however and I am not trying to make excuses for greedy dealers.  Just understand that service parts will always cost more than originals because of the volume issues.

  • avatar
    Dukeboy01

    I know I’m beating a dead horse, but taking a 12 year- old car to a dealership? I’ve got a Nigerian uncle who needs a hand transferring some of his wealth out of the country. Ask your friend if he’s interested. I’ve also got ocean front property in Arizona for sale and a couple of bridges I’m ready to let go for crazy cheap prices. 

  • avatar
    sastexan

    As featured in <a href=”https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/01/piston-slap-escaping-a-duratec-headache/”>HTML this Piston Slap</a> about my sister’s car, she did not have an independent mechanic – the car had been taken to a dealer, who was knowledgeable about the problem, but the service adviser was a complete idiot.  The “shop hours” quoted were so far above Mitchell’s I didn’t believe they actually took it from a book – he claimed Alldata – and the MSRP on parts was above actual list price too (from the Ford dealer I mailed ordered parts from – excluding the discount he would give me).
     
    Direct the dealer to use a NAPA part (or other guaranteed part) and ask to see the Mitchell’s printout with the shop rate and hours for the job.  And get a written quote.  They know they’ve got you somewhat trapped – but don’t give them as much of an excuse.
     
    You can also use one of my famous lines (to my wife’s horror) – “Take my picture.”  “Why would I do that?”  “Because that’s the only way you will ever see my face in here again!”

  • avatar

    1. This is why I have tools.
    2. This is a relatively simple repair.
    3. This is why I buy domestic (usually cheaper parts).
    4. If this was a Chrysler dealer pulling this crap, it would make front page of the NYT and Sebring jokes would be plastered all over Jalopnik.

    If you can’t do simple fixes yourself, then you just need to become a leasee instead of a purchaser next time.

  • avatar

    I should mention… The alternator could probably be rebuilt for less than $30 too.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    It’s called Toyota dealer price gouging. My parents close friends with a 2004 V6 Camry XLE brought there car in to the dealer whenever it needed something or when something went wrong as it often did. The alternator went at 75K and cost him over 800 bucks to replace! The intake gasket started leaking in the back and kept squirting oil over the fire wall and brake booster which cost well over a grand to repair out of warranty of course. Brake jobs typically went for 500 for the front and 600 for the back due to e-brake adjusting and typical servicing at intervals were very pricey. For fun I priced the brakes at the local parts store for around 100 front and the same for back! The Alternator was under 200 bucks at the time and a complete intake job was quoted to be at a local garage for exactly half of what he was charged. Moral of the story- don’t take your older higher mileage Toyota to the dealer and expect any discounts. Same goes for any other dealer.

  • avatar
    BoredOOMM

    Our local Stealership sells lifetime oil changes.  This gets you in the habit of going to dealer for service.  Teh OP may have had good success in prior dealings with Den Of Thieves Toyota.
     
    I suspect they charged him $80 to tell him they were going to rip him off after he told them no to the work.

  • avatar
    brettc

    Wow, I thought VW only bent people over this badly! Apparently I was horribly mistaken. The only thing my 8 and 11 year old Jettas are going to the dealer for is to see if VW will be nice and fix my rusty fenders for free due to a design defect (there’s a TSB on it for TDIs).
     
    Beyond that, there’s no reason to take any out of warranty car to a dealership unless you know people and can get deals on everything. With my VWs, they remain running courtesy of me, a decent local mechanic (who does things I don’t want to/can’t deal with), and a copy of VAG-COM on my laptop. I would assume the same setup would work for a ’99 Land Cruiser. Although I have no idea if anyone has put out an affordable solution to connect to the OBD system like VW owners have.
     
    But $900 for an alternator alone is insane. Buy the alternator online or even go to Napa or Autozone and pick one up. I can’t imagine the engine bay on such a large vehicle is very tight. So it should be fairly easy to replace it in a parking lot or driveway with a decent socket set.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Beyond that, there’s no reason to take any out of warranty car to a dealership unless you know people and can get deals on everything.

      Well, just be sure your independent mechanic isn’t doing work that VW will do for free.  VW was still willing to pay for new a-arms at 120k miles.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    Those of us with old motorcycles steer clear of any dealership for anything we can get someplace else. The absolute last place on earth I would have my bike repaired is a dealer,  I would take it to Pep Boys first, and they don’t know much about bikes.
    9 large for an alternator is really over the top. 400 – 500 is heavy but more in line with having it done at the Stealer.
    I should start a business doing simple repairs like this on Toyota cars near that dealership.

    • 0 avatar
      aristurtle

      Same goes for folks with newer motorcycles. I’ll get my tires mounted and balanced at a shop, because it’s an enormous pain in the ass to do it myself, but that’s my limit. (Well, that and state-mandated inspections).
       
      Luckily, working on your own bike is even easier than working on a car.

  • avatar
    Mikemannn

    I work at an Acura dealerhsip where we quote $800 alternators for Integras all the time.  They’re Densos, which I’m sure is what’s in the Land Cruiser too.  We generally don’t sell many. (or any).

    I would like to point out though, that I’ve installed aftermarket alternators in a number of RSXs at the customers’ request, and each one has been back with all kinds of electrical issues that were traced back to that a/m alternator.   The worst was one that fried the ECU.  These aren’t ‘white box’ cheapies either, they’re name-brand jobbers…  We won’t install any a/m alternator in these cars anymore.

    Sometimes, though very rarely, the OEM part that is 3x more expensive is actually worth it.

    • 0 avatar
      aristurtle

      The main complaint was that the customer checked the Internet and found the OEM part for $300. This wasn’t “shady aftermarket part for 1/3 of the price” it was “exact same part for 1/3 of the price”.

      It’s 2011; every customer has a high-speed internet connection right in your dealership lobby. The game has changed a bit.

    • 0 avatar
      H Man

      Friend of mine did a rebuild on my 87 Integra alternator for under ten bucks.  Take out the worn contact, replace with new.  Hook it back up.

      • 0 avatar
        zenith

        Generally, when a 12-year-old alternator quits, it’s due to worn-out brushes.
        Get a repair manual+ learn how to remove/replace brushes.
        Put in new brushes.
        Have parts store test your alternator and if you are one of the nine of ten people whose alternators simply needed brushes, re-install the alternator.

    • 0 avatar
      turbobrick

      Hey, I don’t have a problem with an OE part costing triple over some cheap junk. I do have a problem when the manufacturer suggests that the retail price of a part should be X, and the dealership decides that a fairer price would be 2X or 3X. Now I’m a parts counter customer so I can tell them to shove it and go somewhere else, but if they’ve already torn your car into pieces you don’t have many good options there.
       
      Also, I don’t find anything about the dealership purchase experience (at least in all the dealerships that I’ve visited) that justifies the higher price. Their hours are inconvenient and service is generally slow and/or confrontational (“There is no such thing as a fuel pump relay on a Volvo 760”, “Fine, just get me this part #”, “Okay, but there’s no returns on these you know..”), and you often end up having to wait for the part to be ordered anyways.

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    The current Suzuki Grand Vitara requires occasional inspection of valve guide clearance.  It’s a very expensive job since it requires disassembling the top of the engine.  (And it seems impossible to find reports of the inspection being necessary to begin with.)

    Due to negative experiences I’d already had with Suzuki dealerships, I took our GV to our completely trustworthy independent mechanic to have it done, rather than to a dealership.  But he had to go to the nearby Suzuki dealer to buy some parts needed for the job, such as gaskets.

    In his presence, and the presence of the dealership manager, the service manager told our mechanic to have a listen to the engine, and if it sounded ok, do nothing and charge me the same amount for the inspection that the dealership would (over $1000).

    Our mechanic told them that he would never do something unethical like that, and if he did the job, he’d charge for the actual time rather than a flat book rate.

    As it turned out, he found a way to analyze the exhaust to determine if the valve clearance was correct, and I don’t recall he charged anything for doing this.

    And the Suzuki dealership went out of business a few months later.  Some dealerships may have to overcharge for repairs in order to stay financially viable, but it doesn’t work in the long run.

  • avatar
    John R

    Whoa! Tow that champ to an independent, dun! Even my Hyundai dealership doesn’t try to pull those sorts of stunts. I dunno about selling it, however. A $0 a month car note is a helluva thing…
     
     
     
     
     

  • avatar
    Dimwit

    Sales of cars are down. The money has to come from somewhere. If it isn’t in sales then it will be from service. Q.E.D. And the farther between same brand dealerships, the worse it will be.

  • avatar

    I’d tell them to kinda stuff it , you know, and stuff.
     

  • avatar
    AJ

    Reminds me of my Honda dealer. At 12,000 miles when I took the car in for an oil change the service advisor wanted me to pay $75 for a safety check. I laughed and told him to change the oil.

  • avatar

    Jack,
    I’m surprised you didn’t pick up the part on your way there and help your buddy change the alternator in the dealer’s parking lot. What’s it take to change an alternator, remove two bolts? I guess on a modern engine with a serpentine drive it’d be even easier since you don’t have to adjust the belt when you’re done.

  • avatar
    Bokonon

    A car dealership here in the Denver area screwed me over pretty thoroughly several weeks ago.  I am a reasonably savvy guy – and these guys absolutely stunned me.

    I brought my car in to the dealer for a minor warranty repair, plus a 30K checkup and AWD service while I was there. 

    The dealer tried to sell me on a series of packages that included all sorts of services and inspections and things that I didn’t want, and that went far beyond the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule.  I said “no thanks.” 

    Much complication and hand waving ensued.  I should have sensed trouble and walked – but I had my wife waiting outside in her car, parked at the curb and waiting to take me to work, and thought I could work with the dealer.  So I stayed and talked.

    I finally told them that I wanted X, Y and Z – and NO PACKAGES – and we agreed to the prices for those services – and ONLY those services.  I physically crossed off the services I that didn’t want from the service order and I signed.  And I left the car in their hands.

    Imagine my surprise when I picked up the car and got a bill that was more than $200 higher than they had estimated that morning.

    Oh … well, they hadn’t included MATERIALS in that quote, the dealer’s service guy told me.  Those costs were only for the SERVICE.  Besides, when you order individual services that aren’t part of a package, the cost can actually be HIGHER.  Those were the PACKAGE prices for the individual services you saw this morning.

    They had also done a transmission flush, involving all sorts of expensive materials and time and machinery … instead of just changing the fluid.  “Oh, sorry … that’s what we always do.  We thought you understood that’s what was involved in a fluid change at our dealership,” they said with a straight face.  Never mind the price difference between the two – in black and white, in my quote from that morning.

    I was furious.

    Bonus – shortly thereafter, I noticed that my A/C system wasn’t working well (it was still winter, and cold, but it wasn’t de-fogging the windows effectively). 

    Turns out that most of the A/C coolant had been discharged.  No leaks showed up in the system.  Just … discharged.  Somehow.

    More fury.  I think I know EXACTLY when that happened.

    Did they think I was going to come back to them for the A/C repair when warm weather arrived, perhaps?  Maybe call it a warranty job and bill the manufacturer?   Sell me on another service package?

  • avatar
    grzydj

    If that was a service adviser then he was being quoted with labor. To that, Chrysler, GM, Toyota, Honda and just about all other manufacturers no longer allow aftermarket parts to be installed in their shops. That means you can’t get a remaned alternator installed at the Toyota dealership, but you could get a Chinese or Mexican remaned installed at a local mechanic for a few hundred bucks, which has been stated already.
     
    Factory parts are typically 2 to 6 times the cost of aftermarket, so his quote was about the norm.

  • avatar
    Bimmer

    Some clown sales guy at Mazda in Etobicoke on Dundas St. on my question what’s up with Mazdas rusting in the XXI century tried to tell me that you have to buy a special coating for $1K. And tried to tell me that Mazda2 and Fiesta are not based on the same platform. I laughed in his face. A day later a friend of mine who was with me during last visit went to said stealership with his wife. That clown fell on his knees and asked my friend not to bring me with him for a visit anymore!

  • avatar
    lostjr

    Jack: heated argument, and then what? Did he get it replaced there? If so how much did he pay for it? If not, what did he do?

  • avatar
    kenwood

    OK, so how do you go about finding a reputable independent mechanic?  How will you know just by looking at an ad, or making a few calls that some shop isn’t going to do something similar or, tell you that in addition to your alternator, the tech also noticed that your ball joints are worn, the u joints are ready to fail and water pump is making noise?  How can the average Joe find that good honest mechanic without trial and error, or waste his time and money  towing his vehicle around getting a dozen estimates?  Not being sarcastic here, I’m really looking for ideas.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Ask around.  And not with the new car crowd.  Make friends with people that actually have old iron.  My fiance’s father having a 1972 Chevy pickup has lead me to a gentleman who actually knows what he’s doing.  An acquaintance who is well educated but born into a fairly poor family in the area lead me to a dynamite transmission re-builder.

    • 0 avatar
      sastexan

      Funny that you asked – I submitted a Piston Slap request to Sajeev a few weeks ago regarding that very question.  Hopefully it will be coming soon.  Although I’m testing a new mechanic out as I write this response.
       
      Primarily, talking to people you know.  Past that, online reviews (like Yelp) give an indication – AAA certification, Angie’s List, Checkbook (if those services are available in your area).
       
      Ask to see that the shop is licensed and has licensed mechanics.  Ask shop hourly rate, where they get parts from, how do they look up procedures (e.g., Alldata), do they charge based on Mitchell’s rates.  And ask for a written estimate prior to approving work.

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