Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 10-12-2006, 08:32 AM
Sailboat Sailboat is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 11,479
Is this ayuto estimate high? (Toyota Camry heater core replacement)

I'm woefully ignorant ofwhat prices are appropriate for auto repairs.

I know it varies regionally, and by type of car. I don't know if posting a price quote straight out is useful; maybe it would be more useful if to find an online resource for gauging whether one is being overcharged?

We were quoted a price this morning to replace the heater core and thermostat in a 1996 Toyota Camry (Norther Virginia area, so it's probably costlier than some othe areas).

As far as I can tell, the heater core is a small radiator that coolant flows through -- replacing one would involve draining coolant, removing old core, installing new core, tightening, refilling. Thermostat is probably a wire hooked into the coolant line somewhere.

Total estimate for parts & abor: $1,030.00.

That seems high for bolting in a part and attaching a wire.

Anyone have any clue as to whether this is a reasonable estimate versus a "we're never coming here again, you chiseler" price?

Thanks,

Sailboat
  #2  
Old 10-12-2006, 08:48 AM
Fat Chance Fat Chance is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Orange County, NY
Posts: 568
Could be correct, as the heater core (you basically described it correctly) is often buried deep inside the dash. So therefore you have to take apart 90% of the dash to just get it in and out. I would say the vast majority of the expense is labor, as the book rate could be several hours of work.

Get a breakdown of labor vs. parts, and look up the book rate for the job > then the only variables will be cost of the parts and labor rate.
  #3  
Old 10-12-2006, 09:21 AM
Rick Rick is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Posts: 16,451
I don't work on Toyotas, but I can tell you that heater cores can be a son-of-bitch.
Depending on how the car is designed, it may be necessary to remove the entire dashboard, and then remove the entire climate box just to get to the heater core.
Heater cores (again depending on make) can cost upwards to $300. Assuming the max that leaves about $700 for labor.
I am going to take a wild assed guess that a non dealer Toyota shop will charge about $60-75/ hour for this type of work.
That means they are quoting the job at about 9-11.5 hours. This is not out of line for some cars. to give you a comparsion, I did a job on the climate system of one car that paid me 14.5 hours when it was all said and done. Again I don't know the specifics of your car.
If Gary T stops by, he can probably give you a pretty good idea of the book time for your car.

the thermostat is a mechanical device that regulates the temp of the coolant in the cooling system. Here is a picture of a typical auto thermostat. They don't have wires on them.
  #4  
Old 10-12-2006, 09:30 AM
Dog80 Dog80 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Athens, Greece
Posts: 3,354
Rick, what car was that? I've only changed the heater core on one car (Nissan Micra K11 ) and it didn't take more than 2 hours. I understand that some cars are more difficult but 14 hours seem way too much.
  #5  
Old 10-12-2006, 09:31 AM
ralph124c ralph124c is offline
Suspended
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 18,476
Estimate is not Out of line

I concur-I changed a heater core once 9on a car that did not have A/C or climate control). It was a terrible job-you have to remove the major portion of the dashboard to get to the core. It took me most of a saturday, and quite a few skinned knucles. plus, my dash was always a bit crooked afterwards-i was never able to get it straight. My advice; let the dealer do it-it is a time consuming job, and if you break something else in the process, you can really screw things up.
  #6  
Old 10-12-2006, 09:41 AM
Rick Rick is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Posts: 16,451
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dog80
Rick, what car was that? I've only changed the heater core on one car (Nissan Micra K11 ) and it didn't take more than 2 hours. I understand that some cars are more difficult but 14 hours seem way too much.
It was a 1988 Volvo 760. I had to change one of the blend door motors in the climate system. The motor in question is located between the climate unit and the firewall, on the front side of the climate unit.
to change this motor it required:
Drain the coolant
Drain the A/C system
(both of these had to be done, as I needed to put the climate unit on the bench to replace the motor)
Remove the center console so that I could
Remove the complete dash
Remove the complete climate unit
Disassemble the climate unit.
Change the @%$%^# motor
Reassemble, refill coolant, recharge A/C.
It took IIRC a touch over 12 hours, and the book time was 14.5.
Don't get me started on doing a similar job on a Jag. I would have nightmares.
  #7  
Old 10-12-2006, 09:43 AM
kunilou kunilou is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Posts: 22,988
I have horrible luck with heater cores -- I've had three of them go bad on me - on 3 different cars. Each time my mechanic has had to pull the dash to replace them.
  #8  
Old 10-12-2006, 09:50 AM
Gary T Gary T is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: KCMO
Posts: 11,189
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sailboat
Thermostat is probably a wire hooked into the coolant line somewhere.
No. Many people have a mistaken idea of what an automotive thermostat is.

A thermostat is a temperature regulating device. In buildings, it's typically mounted on a wall, with a thermometer you can read and an adjustment you can set. It's connected to control wires (going through the wall) that go to the furnace.

In cars, it's a water flow valve mounted in the cooling system, most often where one of the radiator hoses meets the engine block or head. It gives no readout, and has no adjustment.

Cars also often have a temperature gauge in the dash. THIS IS NOT THE THERMOSTAT. It's basically a remote reading thermometer. It operates on a signal from the temperature sending unit (or in some cars, from the computer's temperature sensor), which is a small device installed somewhere on the block or head.

Now, back to the OP. According to my estimators, it sounds way high. While replacing a heater core in some earlier years of Camrys, and in some later years of Camrys, involves a hefty amount of labor, it's a comparatively small job in '92-'01 models. I would price it at about 550 with a genuine Toyota heater core, and could likely do it with a high-quality aftermarket core for noticeably less. Thermostat replacement would probably be about 110. Even with geographic differences (I'm in the Midwest) and some testing fees, I can't see it getting anywhere close to 1,000.

So, I would say the possibilities are:
>This shop is misreading their estimator (for some of those other years, the price would not be out of line)
>This shop is overcharging
>My estimators (3 of them) are wrong

I'd check with a couple of other shops.
  #9  
Old 10-12-2006, 01:04 PM
Sailboat Sailboat is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 11,479
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary T
I would price it at about 550 with a genuine Toyota heater core, and could likely do it with a high-quality aftermarket core for noticeably less. Thermostat replacement would probably be about 110. Even with geographic differences (I'm in the Midwest) and some testing fees, I can't see it getting anywhere close to 1,000.
Thank you! After checking around, we found a place that quoted us $600 for the heater core. Given the fairly ugly standard-of-living around here (I'm in the second wealthiest county in the United States, and I'm definitely below the median in said county) I feel like that's a steal.

Appreciate your fighting my ignorance on the thermostat as well.

Sailboat
  #10  
Old 10-12-2006, 02:30 PM
crazyjoe crazyjoe is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Farmington, MI
Posts: 3,092
Which county is that?
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 08:24 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2018 STM Reader, LLC.

 
Copyright © 2017