where in Bay Area to go change the timing belt on a 98 Civic?

Hello,
My 98 Civic LX with 87000 miles started making the tell-tale high-pitched whistle, suggesting that a timing belt change is in order.
Where should I go do it? Or is this a routine job and would not matter
where I go? My local service center (SpeeDee in Westgate Mall, West San Jose), to which I always went to do the oil change, quoted something in the range of 700 bucks everything included.
Also, is this really a whole-day job?
Thank you,
Serban
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I think you're overdue, years-wise, for a TB change. Do you have an owner's manual? It will say.
Don't put this off. A failed TB can destroy the engine.

A good import shop is a pretty good bet. Dealer will charge more, but it's more likely they'll do it right.

I think I'd go for a more specialized shop.
Call your nearest dealer and get a quote, as some kind of benchmark. Dealer price should be closer to $700. Independent shop, closer to $500.
Price should include new water pump, maybe a new tensioner or balance belt, too.

Technically, it's only about a half-day of work, but given the juggling among repairs shops have to do, plan on leaving it the whole day.
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Hello Elle,
Thanks for the reply. Yes, I know that the TB breaking means curtains for the engine (heard it on NPR's CarTalk, no less) and that I have to do it pretty soon.
The issue I'm having is that all Honda dealers in the South Bay Area have horror-stories posted in this newsgroup; because of this, I'm not very willing to go to a dealer, except if someone recommends it.
What is an import shop?
Serban
Elle wrote:

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A timing belt change is very routine. I would have more faith that dealerships will get this right. Do check prices, though. You can call and the front desk service person will be able to rattle off the cost. Takes a minute or so per call, because it's such a commonly done job.
Some dealerships will charge way too much. But not all. They seem more competitive these days.

I mean a private, auto repair business unaffiliated with a Honda dealership but specialized in, say, Toyotas, Hondas, Nissans, etc. "Import car" = Car design originally done outside the U.S.
Some independent import shops are indeed specialized in Hondas. Look in your Yellow Pages under auto repairs, and see if there is an "Import" section.
The Car Talk web site also used to have a section where one could look up independent shops that were recommended by others. Might surf that site a bit.
Check back. Someone in the SF area may chime in. Or they'll reinforce or debate my opinions above. :-)
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My generic advice is to check the individual dealer websites in your locality for service coupons. There's usually a timing belt special at one of the local dealers. Once you have this as a baseline you can consider your other options.
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as much as $800 for a complete 90,000 mi service. I finally found a shop on San Antonio road in Mt. View, Valero Automotic Unlimiter who did a complete 90,000 service for about $575. They did the coolant, all belts inc timing, water pump, transmission, oil and filter. So far no problems. They were recomended to me by another customer. Call Fred Cheung at 650-941-2541. Bob
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Apple Dumpling wrote:

Did they use top quality parts or the cheapest unbranded Chinese parts they could find?
John
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stuff. Most was OEM.
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gigelus2k3 wrote:

You want to make sure that top quality parts are used, which means staying away from the chains for the most part.
If you don't have a dealer you trust, then use a specialist import shop like Made In Japan, 1011 Dell Ave, Campbell, CA 408-370-2572.
John
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John Horner wrote:

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I think most shops farm out frame straightening (and often all body work) to independents specializing in body work. When our Volvo was hit and the unibody bent the dealer farmed the work out to a local body shop. The results were amazing. I looked hard at the places I knew were creased and couldn't see a trace.
Mike
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Michael Pardee wrote:

in the bay area [my civic is a little too short] but most places want you to spend thousands on a total body re-do, they won't do just the frame. i want to find a shop that knows what they're doing and will do what i want.
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jim beam wrote:

I doubt it. That is a body shop kind of a process.
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gigelus2k3 wrote:

If you already know about cartalk, go to their web site. I'm not sure exactly where, but somewhere on their web site, they have a list of independent repair shops recommended by readers/listeners. Been a while since I did that, so I'm sorry I can't be more specific.
Anyway, the one I used to get a timing belt done on my 99 civic is located in Santa Clara. The nicest folks, don't advertise, and said they only work through word-of-mouth advertising). The shop is called Foreign Affair, and they specialize in Honda/Acura. They'll pick you up at the Santa Clara Caltrain station when you need to pick up your car (and drop you off there when you leave your car). They're cheaper than the dealership, but not by much. But they do an excellent job. I wish I still lived in the bay area.....
They did keep the car all day, but that was convenient for me as well, since I dropped it off on a weekday. IIRC, they don't work on weekends, which is a bit inconvenient. And yes, they use genuine Honda parts, changed the water pump etc.
Good luck! You might find someone closer/more convenient to you from the cartalk web site.
BT
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BT wrote:

I went to cartalk.com and there were a few service shops with more than 3-4 reports, among them Mr. Mazda and Foreign Affair. Since the latter is specialized in Honda/Acura and they're conveniently located close to my job place, I ended up going with them. The car is now in their shop (I asked them to do some other things beside replacing the TB); at least the TB change job was reasonably priced (around 600 bucks all included) and they seem a very serious shop.
One thing they talked about was that the oil drain plug was abused in the past (probably crappy jobs at oil-change stations in Chicago) and that the oil pan thread was almost ruined. They suggested and I aggreed to put in a valve instead (see fumotousa.com). It seems so simple that it makes me a little suspicious, surely there's a catch! Have you ever heard of this?
Will keep you posted.
Serban
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I replaced my 91 Civic's oil drain plug with a Fumoto valve a few years ago. Didn't like it--seemed to leak. I just went to one of the local auto parts stores and bought a new plug. No drips. I also now use a torque wrench to tighten the new plug to the specified torque. Plus I always use a new washer.
Others have reported that they love their Fumoto valves.
Glad to hear the Car Talk site turned up what might be a good shop for you.
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gigelus2k3 wrote:

Glad to hear they worked out for you. They're not cheap, but they do an excellent job. And in my experience, they don't recommend unnecessary repairs.

Yup. Never used it, but a friend of mine had it on his Subaru. He loved it. It's extremely convenient, especially if you do your own oil changes. And if you go to the fast lube places, it ensures they won't completely destroy the threads! I don't remember exactly how this thing is designed, but you may want to make sure there's enough clearance, etc., so the valve doesn't accidently open and drain out all the oil. Another caveat is that you may not be able to get all the oil out of the pan, because it extends a little bit above the drain. If you're regular with your oil changes and warm up the engine before you do them, it shouldn't matter.
Good luck!
BT
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