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Independent mechanic versus dealer for timing belt replacement?

(2001 Honda Accord)
in Los Angeles, CA on September 29, 2010
My dealer quoted $850 (or $765, giving me a 10% discount because I'm broke) to replace the timing belt (and associated belts, serpentine, etc.) and the water pump on my car. An independent dealer with excellent reviews on Yelp quoted me $490. I've never been anywhere but the dealer, but $850 (even $765) is a lot of money for me. It's important to me to get this right, since it should be the only service I do on the car for a while if it's done correctly. Should I go to the dealer because I know they have to guarantee their service, or should I try the independent dealer who's much cheaper with good reviews (even though I've never used him before)?

The car only has 65K miles on it, but since it's a 2001, the dealer says I should replace the timing belt now (and the water pump while the belt is off).

What do you guys think?
Displaying 1 answers & 3 comments
Popular Answer
on September 29, 2010
A good independent shop will guarantee the job also. The most important thing is the quality of the parts and the service. The dealer will use all original parts, which are good quality, and as you can see it lasted about 10 years without failure. If the independent shop will use all original parts from Honda and not cheap aftermarket (also asian, but not Japanese) parts, than go for it.
There is an other thing though, make sure the balancer belt, belt tensioners, idler pulleys and all the front seals are replaced too. All those parts has 65K and 10 years and just as important as the timing belt and water pump. If they fail - they will cause the same damage just like the w.pump and t-belt.

on September 29, 2010
If I call the shop and they tell me that they will use original parts and they guarantee the job, how long is a good guarantee? A year? Do you think I should use the mechanic with excellent reviews even though I've never used them? I'm wary of new people, but I also don't want to be foolish and be out an extra $400 for being paranoid.
on September 29, 2010
They should give you 12 months / 12K miles warranty on parts and labor. This is what most dealer would give anyway. If the guy is a certified tech, uses OE or OEM parts, has excellent reviews, good BBB reports and you have a good gut-feeling about him, go for it.
An other thing. Some aftermarket parts will pass the warranty period, but you don't want it to last 1.5 years, you want it to be good for many years. Don't misunderstand me, I'm not saying all aftermarket parts are bad, matter of fact I know and use some aftermarket parts which is better than the original, but it isn't common and there are many bad quality parts out there. If the shop is cheaper only because they use low quality parts - I'd dump them.

on September 29, 2010
Great, thanks!
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