DEAR CAR TALK: Should I repair or replace my 2004 BMW 325xi with less than 24,000 miles on it? The body and exterior are in excellent condition. But the following repairs have been suggested:
• Replace the power steering reservoir, which is leaking, and flush the system.
• Fix leak in rear differential cover.
• Replace rear brakes (3mm, rotors, sensors).
• Replace original tires.
• Four-wheel alignment.
The estimated cost is $7,000. Should I sell it or do the repairs? I’m 75, and I did not get another estimate. – PD
RAY: The first thing you should do is lose the address of this repair shop, PD. That sounds, to me, like an outrageous amount of money for that work. I’ll give you an idea of what it would cost in our shop.
Replacing the power steering reservoir and flushing it out should cost a few hundred dollars. Replacing the differential seal should cost no more than $150. For a four-wheel alignment, let’s say another $150. The rear brakes, being generous, let’s say $700.
And for tires, even if you spent $250 per tire, which is what you’d pay for top-of-the-line tires, that’s $1,000. So let’s see. I get $2,300. Even if you went to the dealer, where they charge a premium, that repair order shouldn’t cost more than about $3,500.
So unless you left something out of your letter, the guys you went to are charging you at least double. That puts them in Nigerian Email Scam terrain. So the answer is, if you like the car, PD, and it still serves your needs, you should keep the car, and trade in your mechanic.
If you need help finding a better mechanic, go to www.MechanicsFiles.com. That’s where our readers and listeners have shared the names of mechanics they like and trust. You can search by ZIP code and read the reviews. And then go get another estimate or two. I think that’ll make you feel a lot better, whatever you decide.
Got a question about cars? Write to Ray in care of King Features, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803, or email by visiting the Car Talk website at www.cartalk.com.