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FortKnox's Journal: Ask the dot: Any gearheads? 15

Journal by FortKnox
I have an 01 Pontiac Grand Am (V6). Here's whats wrong:
Left front caliper is locked, it burned the rotor.
Intake Gasket is leaking pretty badly.
I need 4 new tires.

His quote? $2200
I call bullshit. A complete replacement of the front brakes is over $700? I think $300 is a bit much!
The intake gasket is a bit over $800. That I can see...
So that makes new tires + balancing over $400.


I may be a geek that doesn't know much about tires, but I know when I'm being taken for a ride....
Anyone know of more reasonable prices? I'm tempted to go to the dealer, cause if I'm paying anywhere close to that, I want it done right...
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Ask the dot: Any gearheads?

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  • Had a caliper get stuck on a 1984 Mercury Lynx (Ford Escort) several years ago. My father and I replaced the caliper, brake pads and the damaged rotor for about $130, and it took us about an hour. This was approximately 15 years ago. Taking that into consideration, I would estimate that doing the same today would be about double for the parts and would cost maybe $100 for the labor (assuming $65/hr for 90 minutes), for somewhere around $350 as a reasonable amount to pay for just the rotor and caliper job. D

  • Getting a repair shop you can trust is so huge. If I can at all help it, I take my cars in when we visit the in-laws in Indiana because they have a great local place you can rely on.

    The brakes I could see being expensive - he's also having to replace that caliper, right? As for tires, do you really need them right now, and what kind of tires do you need? You could go as low as $300 or so if you catch a sale at one of the tire stores, or as high as the sky. That all depends on what kind of driving you do
    • by ncc74656 (45571) *

      The other thing I'd check into is getting rebuilt, or at the very least, new aftermarket (not brand-name) parts.

      Rebuilt is OK for non-safety-critical parts, but I don't know that I'd trust a rebuilt caliper.

      I've never had to replace a caliper and therefore don't know how much they run, but new rotors for a FWD GM vehicle should be dirt-cheap (they were ~$20 each for an '83 Celebrity I used to own) and pads are fairly inexpensive as well (maybe $20-$30 for two wheels). Using $100 as a WAG for the cali

      • by gmhowell (26755)
        A caliper rebuild is no big deal. I've done it on several motorcycles. You pop out the piston(s) and clean up any corrosion. If this requires removing more than X amount of material, junk it. Normally, it just takes a light hone. Put piston (possibly a new one) back in with new seals.

  • $400 is by no means dirt cheap (that would be when you get the 4 for $99 special on 14-inchers), but if they are sportier tires, I know several people who have spent $200 per tire, because that's the going rate for 17-inch low profiles. The last time that I replaced the (14-inch) tires on my Ford Tempo, I paid about $100 per tire. While I knew that they could be had for cheaper (maybe $75 per tire) if I looked around, I needed them desparately at that time and $400 was not unreasonable for 4 tires. Peopl
    • I put 17inch low profile speed rated directional tires on my old Eclipse. Retail price $1200 for a set of 4. (My uncle owned a tire store, I got them for his cost, $700.) They were great tires. Really gripped the road. I could take sharp curves at 90MPH without skidding or slipping.

      FK, get SEVERAL quotes from different shops, including the dealership. Read reviews online and call the BBB. Regardless of price, these people are working on something you use to transport yourself and family. You do N

    • by subgeek (263292) *
      sw is right. it is my opinion that it's worth having good tires. they last longer, make the ride better, and keep you safer. i don't buy the fanciest tires, but they're a little over $100 a piece for the tire. that's without mounting and balancing.
  • Replacing a seized caliper is labor intensive and if its actually managed to weld itself to the rotor, could take hours of careful cutting. The tires for $400 is a steal. Overall, it sounds like if anything he underbid the project. The same work here in MD would cost me upwards of $3k.
  • Looks like you have lots of opinions, so have another:

    Who the hell knows if you are being ripped on tires? What make, model, size of tires? $400 is okay for tires a little better than stock if the size is average (which on a Grand Am, they likely are:)

    SJ might be right about the rotor/caliper replacement. Again, it depends. Does the wheel spin? If so, you are being screwed. Replacing a caliper and a rotor is a pretty quick job. The real sticky situation is parts. The Grand Am you refer to is pretty common,
    • by FortKnox (169099) *
      Thanks for the input.
      The tires, don't seem to bad... I must have worded it wrong.
      The gasket? Sounds reasonable. They have to take like 2/3s of the engine off to get to it.
      The brakes were my issue. He wants to replace both pads, and rotors, and 1 caliper... then clean and readjust the back drums... Just seemed excessive to me, but he is the master mechanic, and I've trusted him in the past.... I just don't have $2200 to drop...
      • The brakes I just had on my Passat were about $250. But I had no damage, just replace the pads and clean them or something. I think that only if your brakes are too gone you would need to replace the rotors. or at least "turn them" (A dude in a truck with a lath makes them true again.)
  • The question is do you trust the mechanic.
    I just had the front brakes replaced on my wifes van, shoes and rotors, for $145 at the dealer, but they give us good rates on labor as repeat customers.
    I got a quoted for 450 to do the same think at another shop. but I think they are crooks.

    4 tires for the Van were $650 installed and they were mid-range.

    The when I get new tires on my Jag it will be about 950 - 1200. I have to get Z Rated tires.
    Brakes will be 600 all around because I need rotors. The mechanic that I
  • Tires, Motorcycle Helmets, Child Car Seats, etc.

    Understand that a good set of tires and breaks are your main line of defense in avoiding accidents so don't cheap out on them.

    Beyond that, check what the favorite repair place is at your office, maybe get a competitive quote.

    Sounds like the real issue (as highlighted by other posters) is trust. Do you trust the mechanic or not?
  • by gmhowell (26755)
    So did you decide what to do about the car?
    • by FortKnox (169099) *
      Had'm do it all.
      Wife called and bitched about how we came in for brakes the weekend before and they said there was nothing wrong. Plus I had a break service coupon. Cost just a touch over $2k for everything, including tax and all that.
      Drives great, but, best of all, the drivers side window, which didn't work before, started working. I figured to fix it, it'd cost over $600 for replacement parts to the motor in the door, but I'm guessing something just went loose in the engine, and they fixed it when th

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