Sunday, July 25, 2010

Could Be Worse. I Could Be Driving This Pile....

I own a 2005 Honda Odyssey Minivan. Yes, you can cue the "The Dad Life" rap in your head, I can't get that tune out of my mind since I saw it.

As a useful family vehicle, I like it fine. I don't get hung up on the whole "I'd rather get an SUV to be cool" thing as a family man. Look, when you are taking your kids to "the splash pad" it doesn't matter what you roll up in. You are still going to be smearing on sunscreen, popping Capri Sun's, and generally thinking to yourself: "I could be golfing right now."

So to me, I've always been a mini-van guy because simply, it's the right tool for the job.

Our Odyssey has wicked high miles on it, however. Something like 120k+. We've had it serviced regularly, and it hasn't been in any accidents, so I think it should be good until 200,000.

Plus: paid for. Cha-ching.

But recently, I noticed a bit too much play in the steering wheel, and the brakes cause the wheel to shimmy violently when you gently tap the brakes.

So I haul it to the dealer where I bought not just this van, but our previous Odyssey from. Service guy there replaces various brake parts, rotates tires, swears that the "tech" took it out for a drive, and it was good to go.

It wasn't.

I brought it back.

More efforting to fix it. They gave it back to me. Said they did more things to the breaks and what-not. Said it was good to go.

No. Even worse.

So I take the van to get a second opinion from another Honda dealer nearer my house. Here's what comes back. Mind you, I have not had any of this work done.. yet. I'm trying to puzzle out what's going on.

Dealer #1 says: We replaced all the brake pads and turned the rotors. Rotated and balanced tires, everything looks good to us.

Dealer #2 says:

2 Broken Engine Mounts ($900 each)
1 Cracked Engine Mount ($250)
Leaking steering rack ($1075)
Loose L/F inner tie rod ($245)

Oh yeah. Rear wiper blade was worn. Replaced: No charge. Thank you.

Now, here's my conundrum. What the hell is going on?

On the one hand, I would normally be suspicious that Dealer #2 is just trying to take me to the woodshed with a bunch of needless car surgery. However, the van is driving like crap. All of this sounds quite plausible.

But why would Dealer #1 actually perform a lot of brake job mojo (much of it for free, since I kept taking the car back to get it "right") and then just whistle and pretend everything was cool??

Also, how many more miles (round to the nearest 10, please) until my van's engine just falls to the pavement like dropped pop fly in shallow right?

And don't say "sell the car and get an SUV." I checked the Blue Book. My van isn't worth crap in GOOD condition, much less this way. Aside from these mechanical issues, the interior is in fine condition, and the Touring model (which I have) is all tricked with NAV, back-up camera, prox sensors, DVD entertainment, auto-doors and the like.

There's no way I'm getting rid of it. Even if I've gotta take in the face and spend another 2-3K getting it fixed.

Thanks for your manly advice, oh, manly men.

PS: I have a sneaky suspicion my wife is STUNT JUMPING this puppy at the State Fair when I'm out of town. THREE BROKEN mounts!? CRIKEY!


  1. OK, Czabe, first turn in your man-card for having no idea about anything automotive. Moving along, now; at 120K miles in what is probably city driving for the most part, you do not turn rotors at that mileage; they should have taken rotor thickness measurements as well as runout mueasurements prior to cutting them. At that mileage, replacement is almost a given.

    As for excessive play in the steering wheel, yes, they should look at components like tie rod ends, ball joints, the rack, etc. and recommend WHAT WILL FIX THE PROBLEM. Worn/broken engine mounts will not cause these problems,generally speaking, aside from some torque steer on acceleration. Find an honest shop, dealer or otherwise, and handle it.

  2. Czabe,
    I don't believe this is related to the engine mounts, but probably the tie rods and steering rack.
    Your mounts shouldn't have any affect on the vibrations in your wheel...

  3. This is where Saudi Arabia gets it right. They don't let the women drive. I bet their cars last forever, those that have motor vehicles.

  4. To check if the motor mounts are broken 1. start the car and open the hood. 2. standing off to the side of the van...the side of van with van in park and emergency brake on have your wife shift from P to D, D to R and so on. If the engine jumps violently you have busted motor mounts

    Find a reputable garage. Screw the dealers. The prices seriously over inflated.

    I had a motor mount on my '04 Odyssey replaced - ~$300.

  5. Have the first dealer look at the tie rods (sounds like the probable cause to me).

  6. 2nd dealer is probably trying to get you to buy a new vehicle by telling you it's going to cost $2-3K to fix your old one. Salesman: "Why put $2K into this old clunker when you can have this fine (insert vehicle here) for just a couple hundred a month?"
    And your Honda engine will pretty much last longer than the rest of the car.

  7. Czabe,
    I have similar miles on my Odyssey and had the shimmy in the steering wheel when braking. I had new rotors put in, and the problem went away. As far as motor mounts, it sounds like that dealership was trying to boost their numbers by quoting stuff like that. Have new rotors put on, then see how the steering wheel feels when you brake. Ditto what others are saying about staying away from the dealer, just find a good independent mechanic.

  8. I agree with Adam. Front rotors probably need to be turned or replaced. How old are the tires on front of the car? Worn tires can cause shaking in the steering wheel.

  9. BTW.. When will you post a new czabecast and podcast?? I need my first team fix!!!!

  10. Czabe:

    I would recommend NOT going to dealer. Find a good, honest independent garage and get the real scoop from them. I had my Honda dealer tell me my 2006 Civic needed a new timing belt. I took it to a reputable independent garage who told me my car has a timing chain; not a belt.

  11. You really need to take this to a good indy shop and stop getting jerked around by the Honda dealer. Not that their technicians aren't good, but this reeks of an upsell into a new car. If you still live in Loudoun anywhere close to Dulles/Sterling I would seriously consider taking the car to Chandler & Sons ( No, I have nothing to personally gain except for a strong belief that they are one of the best shops in Northern Virginia

  12. Sounds like tie rod to me too. If it's been a while, the tie rod problem could be increasing the wear on tires. Leaky rack? Motor mounts? The best shop I ever had would always show me anything they find... good or bad. Ask them to show you the problems.

    Since everyone else is loving indy shops I'll put a plug in for dealers (and I'm not a UAE member)... Of the 3 dealers in my area I like 2 of their service shops. Good workers, free WiFi, TV, courtesy cars, etc. The indy shops around me that don't look like they're junk collectors are either more expensive or time consuming... "If you drop it off I can probably get to it later this week."

  13. From my experience you have two types of dealerships the ones out to extract $$$ from you b/c you don't know better and the honest ones who from time to time don't catch certain things. My wife and I have owned Honda's and Acura's exclusively for the past 10 years.

    I have three ideas for you:
    1. Find a Honda / Acura only service shop (not the dealer) and take it in to see what they say. Here in AZ, we have the two types of dealerships and the Honda/Acura only service centers. The service center is always about 15% cheaper and their service is A+. Only downside is that the hours of operation and location is not always convenient so you have to be flexible.

    2. Do you still own your Acura? You know that the service experience is night and day between Acura and Honda. So if you do still have your Acura call your service advisor and ask him if you can bring in the Honda to have it looked at. Tell him you don't trust the diagnosis you are getting. They might not be able to service it buy they would be able to confirm the diagnosis from Dealer 1 and 2.

    3. Can call Honda America and tell them the trouble you are having with Dealer #1 and Dealer #2 in terms of diagnosis. The dealerships don't like the Mothership coming down on them and will move faster than lightening to get you to a happy place.

    One other comment, I had a brake problem similar to yours and the problem was due to aftermarket pads not "Honda" pads on the car. They had to grind the rotors and all that stuff but no problem when they put the genuine product on the car.

  14. buy the parts yourself (not from the dealer) and have a friend install them... if you don't have any mechanic friends, get a referral to a non-dealer mechanic~

  15. Switch to stack and tilt. I'm stacked!

  16. Like NDG that is what you should have done, its not rocket science. Heck I bought brand new rotors for my Jeep at $20 ea. At 120k, most rotors don't have enough material left on them nowadays to even bother turning them, may as well throw them away. Not only that most of the bad mechanics that do this work hammer the lugs down with an impact wrench set so damn high that you will end up with a warped rotor in no time and that will cause vibrations when you apply the brakes, they've never heard of a torque wrench, let alone how to actually use one. God forbid you ever have to take a tire off with one of those ittybitty wrenches they give you if you have a flat. There also is nothing wrong with after-market pads, Honda's into making cars not brake pads. There are also slides and pistons in the calipers that often freeze up due to corrosion they'll cause pulsation, and if you have been adding brake fluid as you were using up the previous brakes, then go out and get a brake job done you'll often have too much fluid in the reservoir.

    At 120k+ of city driving on this type of van I wouldn't give you $750 for it let alone put a couple more grand in repairs in it. A couple of grand of repairs, that puppy should be put out in your front yard with a for sale sign on it to make it someone elses problem, buy a newer one.

  17. Wanted to say thanks to everyone jumping in on this! GOD, I do love men willing to lean in and peer under the hood of another man's car.

    I think I will indeed go to a third opinion from an independent dealer. Can't hurt.

    I wonder if any shop would let me actually into the garage so I can see with my own eyes the "broken" mounts.

    Not that I would know what they look like, but I feel like I just want to see what the hell they are saying.

    Stay tuned. In the meantime, the missus is just gonna have to lump it while I'm up there in Wisky golfin'!


  18. Tell Clarkie I said HI. -Carpie

  19. I'm late to the conversation and am in Raleigh, but I echo the strong recommendation to get away from the dealers.

    They have an agenda.

    A quality independent shop has an interest in a good repair, because if they do it right you'll return to them for more work.

    A dealer wants to sell a new vehicle.

    The indy I go to here would let me see what they see in the garage,

  20. Czabe why aren't you rolling out your organ grinder and dancing for a Honda dealer in the greater DC metroplex? I'm sure they'd hook you up with a pre-paid lease in return for a couple commercials a year. I think you're being a little short sighted here.

  21. Sorry I'm late but in immortal words of George Costanza...Yeah right.. I’m gonna get my car repaired at a dealership. Huh! Why don’t I just flush my money down the toilet?