Proactive Maintenance of a 98 Camry

My previous car was a used 92 Camry. Other than check air, change oil, and change muffler when it became noisy, I did not do any proactive
maintenance. As a result a few things failed on me at most inconvenient moments: radiator, water pump (which required changing timing belt too), battery. As I often found myself in emergency sits, I wasn't always able to plan where work should be done, I had to take what I could get.
I just bought a 98 Camry with 80K miles on it. It is in great shape and I want to keep it for at least five years, maybe until 150K. I want to avoid my previous mistake and be proactive about maintenance, but also not throw away any good parts that would last until 150K.
The previous owner just got a new battery. Tires are Regata 2 with 35K miles. Because of a flat I have had them evaluated repeatedly and they seem good for 1-2 years.
How should I approach the maintenance of this car? What should be done and when?
Secondly, where should such work be done? I am so happy to be able tp plan that, instead of being limited by who is near and who is open during a holiday weekend!
Are big national chains like Sears, Pep Boys, WalMart etc any good? CarX, Midas, Firestone? (Recommendations for places local to Chicago are also welcome.)
I stopped at a local garage in an area where I had to kill time today. He suggested (1) changing belts (incl timing) and (2) getting a tune-up, even if nothing seems wrong. Is that good advice?
He was unsure about water pump: it would be $80 if done with timing belt but a lot more if it had to be done on its own, but nothing is wrong and it could possibly last.
Anyway, dear experts, I would be most grateful for your guidance on how to keep this car perfectly maintained. :-)
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Look in your owners manual and follow the severe service maintenance schedule. If there are things you are behind on or don't know to have been completed then go ahead and catch them up.

I avoid the above mentioned places at all costs. Some of them can be good but most are not and you never know which kind you are getting. Ask friends and co-workers for reccomendations on an independant shop that is reliable and in your area.

The fact that he was unsure about the water pump is a little troubling to me. Replacing the water pump with the timing belt on these cars is a very good idea as you have to remove it to get to the belt anyway and when it fails in the future (not if) it can take out the brand new belt. Gates web site shows your belt needing to be changed at 90k miles.
When a timing belt breaks on your engine the valves can hit the pistons. When this happens either the valves or the piston breaks.... either way it will cost you a small fortune so don't mess around with it. Check out http://www.gates.com/brochure.cfm?brochure "56&location_id487 for a pretty good explanation and a couple of illustrations that show what happens.

I don't really think you can keep any car perfectly maintained. It sounds like you have a good plan already though and should be able avoid many unexpected problems. The toughest part is finding someone who is good and that you can trust to work on the car.
Consider getting a AAA membership if you don't have one already. It is very nice to have one number to call for help anywhere in the country should the car leave you stranded.
Steve B.
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Find a good mechanic and check everything, follow the manual, change trans fluid and filter even if it looks good. Use Toy parts for electrical and things like water pump and plug wires, cap ,rotor.
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: Replacing the water pump with the timing belt on these cars is : a very good idea as you have to remove it to get to the belt anyway : and when it fails in the future (not if) it can take out the brand new : belt. Gates web site shows your belt needing to be changed at 90k : miles.
I think the cost benefit analysis is quite clear: If I don't change the water pump and it doesn't break while I own my car, I save $100 approx; if it breaks, I lose at least $250 (one timing belt job, which may have to be repeated anyway), and maybe more if there is other serious damage.
So I guess I will do them both. However, the car has only 80K miles, I think I can wait 1-2 years, or at least I spot some great sale somewhere on this job. :-)
Thank you for the rest of your most helpful advice as well.
: Consider getting a AAA membership if you don't have one already.
Thanks. I have been wondering which national club would offer the best value and was thinking of asking that question in another thread.
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Where are you getting those prices? An accord costs almost $1000 to have the timing belt and water pump done. I would assume a Toyota is similar.
However, I have had 3 Hondas with more than 130,000 miles, none of which showed any indication of failure for going past the 90,000 mile mark where it should have been replaced. I am almost convinced that timing belt replacement is, as CH says, snake oil. Besides, the quote to do the work before and after a failure is not that different.
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: Where are you getting those prices? An accord costs almost $1000 to : have the timing belt and water pump done. I would assume a Toyota is : similar.
I have no experience with Hondas, but 1000 seems too much for a Camry. For timing belt alone I have seen *dealer* ads around 200 (granted those are promotions).
: However, I have had 3 Hondas with more than 130,000 miles, none of : which showed any indication of failure for going past the 90,000 mile : mark where it should have been replaced. I am almost convinced that : timing belt replacement is, as CH says, snake oil. Besides, the quote : to do the work before and after a failure is not that different.
There are two arguments against this. First, even if not much more expensive, it will be much more inconvenient if done in an emergency. If it breaks on the road, you would miss whatever you were driving to, and could also be far away from any Toyota dealer or even a decent garage.
Second, I know that if they say 90,000 it is not going to break at 91,000. If I want to sell my car at 100,000 or even 110,000 I might chance it. But what if I plan to keep it until 150,000 as OP said? Or even longer. After a point, I won't have piece of mind. And if I change it later, I'd be spending the money anyway.
BTW on my Camry I changed it at 120,000 but I did change it, because of accululating anxiety. I drive alone, or with kids, during nights, through less populated areas, etc. I could have changed it earlier for much less anxiety and no more money.
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wrote:

Here in the Chicago suburbs, the local dealer charges around $200 for a timing belt on a Camry and at $100 to $150 additional for a water pump. Having to pay $1000 for a timing belt would make me think seriously about getting another model!
On an interference engine, if the timing belt fails, the pistons can hit the valves, causing extensive damage. People often find this hard to believe, but the folks who make the cars probably know more about the car and the cost benefits of performing periodic maintenance than most owners. Whether the cost to replace the timing belt is $200 for a Camry or $1,000 for the Accord, it is cheaper to change the timing belt before it breaks than letting it break and having to tow for an unscheduled repair or worse, tear down the engine for major repairs.
--
Ray O
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350-400 should get you a belt and pump on a Camry
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On Sun, 26 Jun 2005 00:34:28 -0500, "Ray O"

According to every Honda mechanic I have asked, and that is more than a couple, a timing belt failure does not lead to any significant damage. Every time they recommend a change, I ask them, and they look down, admit they are just trying to make more money, and walk away chastened for being caught at it.
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I imagine your just a troll having fun at others expense here but just for the record the Gates book shows virtually every Honda engine from every yeat to be an interference engine. This means when the belt breaks you can bend valves or knock holes in the tops of the pistons.
If any sensible folks would like to check it our for themselves go to http://www.gates.com/brochure.cfm?brochure "56&location_id487 and select the Timing Belt Replacement Gudie link on that page. It is a big Adobe doc and takes a minute to download
Steve B.
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I think it is foolhardy to believe a timing belt will never snap. I do know from experience that you can get lucky and not do damage to the valves and pistons when a belt snaps on an interference engine. This happened on my fathers car. The old belt snapped. We towed it home and put in a new belt and the car started right up, no problem. I have also seen other engines that were not so lucky and almost all the valves were bent, the pistons just had some scratches in them and did not need to be changed. ----------------- Alex
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DTJ wrote:

It should not cost $1000 to change the t-belt and water pump on an Accord. I have a '93 Accord, and it cost only $350 to get it done at a private mechanic who specializes in Hondas.

I have heard of many instances of the belt failing past the interval, but very few within the interval.
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S.S. wrote:

ditto -- paid about 350 for a new tbelt and water pump from my great indie mechanic. top notch work -- keeps my cars running great, this guy does, and very reasonable prices. even lets me bring my own parts in if I want.
Even though he races Ford Mustangs -- don't see many hondas and toyotas ... or maybe he's so good _because_ he races Fords?

its worth it for the peace of mind and a new water pump ta boot

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Private mechanic...

I have never heard of one failing. Other than the typical urban legend you hear on the Internet.
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Honda timing belts don't fail that often because, absent regular maintenance, the water pump fails first, then the timing belt gets replaced along with it.
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I hate to tell you this, but I sell auto parts for a living, and I have seen many people come in holding parts of a timing belt, needing a new one. I usually tell them they are going to need more work than just a belt, but people like to try the cheap before spending big time cash.
I had a timing belt on a volveo strip the teeth off at the crank while I was leaning over it trying to figure out why it was running like crap.(I figured it out then)
Bernard
of course, I am posting this in USENET, so it still could pass for your urban myth, based on that
;)
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On Sat, 2 Jul 2005 20:35:28 -0700, "Bernard Farquart"

It could. But I have faith in your honesty.
Still, as you know, your "data" does not a survey make. While I admit that it is likely that your experience will hold true across a larger sample, it is possible that the area you work in is more prone to belt failure, or that you have a lot more people who drive harder, or have higher mileage cars, or something else. In any case, I have yet to hear of a failure, and I am not about to shell out a grand for Honda to replace it. 165000 miles and counting, on a car that gets driven harder than 90% of vehicles on the road. I frequently do over 80MPH, commonly over 90, and I would guess about once a month I break 100.
Now, there is a greater chance it will break soon due to my having replaced the radiator, but not the fans, and thus it is running hotter than normal. So you have peaked my interest.
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I also had a tensioner falure in my 928, this caused one of the camshaft gears to slip 30 degrees, this is supposed to cause massive engine damage at more than 5 degrees, but since I had to move the car, I put a new tensioner on and replaced the belt, and viola! it fired right up, so some interference engines can escape damage, if your "car-ma" is good enough. I really don't have an explination for my luck on that one.
A thousand bucks seems silly for that service, but I suppose it is possible, have you done much shopping around? I personally have little faith in the dealership's service department, I find that an independant shop that has been around for a long time may be a better bet, but you can get burned anywhere.(it seems)
If you are in the Seattle area, I can recommend some excellent shops.
If it were me, I would swap the belt, if you plan on keeping the car for a long time.
Bernard
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I don't have much Honda experience, but I also have seen timing belts break many times. I have never seen one break before 1.5 times the recommended change interval, more often the ones I saw were around double the recommended interval. I have seen timing chains break as well, but not nearly as often and not in the past 10 or 15 years or so.
--
Ray O
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Those lovely GM timing chain sets from the 60's made of aluminum and nylon didnt hold up too well.
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