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The Yankee Express

Mechanic is right about cost of replacing a water pump

by John Paul

Q. I have been told that my water pump on my 2008 V-6 engine powered Toyota Highlander with 72,000 miles needs to be replaced. I took it in because there was a grinding sound coming from the pulley area. The mechanic said the pulley on the water pump is making a slight grinding sound suggesting the bearings are going and it has a small leak. According to the mechanic, replacing the water pump is a five-hour job and it’s going to cost $1100.00, is that true and if so, is there anything else that should be changed at that time, because a lot of parts have to be removed to get to the water pump? Right now, the car, besides the grinding noise, is running fine.

A. Your shop is correct that the labor time to replace the water pump is about five hours. Today we are seeing shop labor rates from $100-$175 per hour, so costs escalate quickly. I would replace the drive belts, and perhaps the belt tensioners while replacing the water pump. 

Q. My 2013 Honda CRV (AWD) is now starting to shimmy/vibrate when I accelerate between 25mph and 30mph. When I looked up this issue on some of the Honda Forums it appears that this is quite common, to my surprise. Honda service is unaware of this issue. My CRV has 55,000 miles, I drive very carefully in the suburbs (no hills or towing). Any idea what I should do next? Is this the start of a transmission problem?

A. Honda has had a problem with this transmission, and many times it can be repaired with a software update and fluid change. Honda describes it as a surge, vibration, or judder that may be felt while driving under light acceleration. Like many cars today, it is critical that manufacturer specific fluid is used when the transmission is serviced.
Q. I just got a brake job done at a shop on my 2002 Honda Accord. When doing a brake job, do you recommend resurfacing rotors in addition to installing new pads? Or is it sometimes just okay installing new pads only? Also is there a break in procedure for new brake pads?

A. When I first started repairing cars many years ago brake drums and rotors were always resurfaced. Later I attended the General Motors training center and was told if the brake rotors are smooth, free of rust and there is no brake vibration it is perfectly acceptable and preferred to just replace the brake pads. Part of the reason is that brake rotors are thinner than ever, and resurfacing takes away metal and the rotors are more prone to distortion and vibration. In many cases to keep brake performance optimal pads and rotors are replaced together. New brake pads do require a break in. Depending on the manufacturer this can be accomplished in less than 10 minutes. This usually includes four or five aggressive stops from 30 MPH to 5 MPH in fairly rapid succession not letting the brakes cool down. Then drive for about five minutes at a moderate speed not using the brakes to allow the brakes to cool completely. This procedure is performed before the vehicle is returned to the customer. 

Q. I’m in the market for a new SUV. Maybe Toyota 4Runner or a Ford Explorer, maybe even Ford Expedition? I cannot find anything in stock. Everything has to be ordered and the dealer wants $5,000 above the Sticker. How can I find vehicles that are in stock? What does this lack of inventory and selling for above MSRP situation look like from your perspective? Will we see more vehicles before the end of the year?

A. A year ago, I would have said the new car inventories would have been back to normal by now. That unfortunately isn’t the case. I’m not sure we may ever see “normal” again. I think that car will sell much closer to the sticker price than in years past. Of the vehicles you mentioned, you may have the best luck with the 4Runner. I recently evaluated a 4Runner and a neighbor saw it and loved it. I heard from his daughter that he found one in stock at a local dealer at a price he was happy with. The Explorer is popular and may be harder to find and Expedition inventories were always on the low side at Ford dealers compared to other popular models. I would just go online to specific dealer sites or use Cargurus, Iseecars or AAA’s car buying service, to check inventory and prices.

John Paul is AAA Northeast’s Car Doctor. He has over forty years’ experience in the automotive business and is an ASE-certified master technician. He will answer readers’ questions each week. Email your questions to [email protected]. Follow John on Twitter @johnfpaul and friend him on Facebook, mrjohnfpaul.