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I had to take my wife's car (2002 Camry V-6) to the dealer since the check engine light lit on the weekend. Turns out it was the oxygen sensor that had to be replaced. Cost a little over $500.00 parts, labour and taxes. Take away the excruciating 15% in sales taxes and the bill is spilt, roughly, $395.00 for the part and an hour of labour. Asked that the old part be returned and looked at it in its bubble wrap on the passenger seat this morning. It's a probe with a piece of wire about four inches long attached and a connector at the other end with threads about the size of a spark plug's.
Question number one: how the hell can such a thing be almost $400?
Question number two: how the hell does it take an hour to take out the old and put in the new?
I realize the damn thing may be located under an assortment of odds and ends since this is the way with modern cars, but what the hell!
This is precisely why I don't take my car to a dealer. Most of the money made at a dealership is due to maintenance and repairs. The cost per hour of Toyota dealership mechanics, as at other dealerships, is high.
Find a independent mechanic that you can trust. Yes, it will still be expensive, but you will have the peace of mind of knowing that the markup--be it in parts or labor--is less than that at the dealership, and you can talk directly to the mechanic, rather than to customer service personnel who are clueless robots.
I thought one of the problems facing independents now is that the manufacturers will not let them have the computer equipment to test modern engines?
There are two oxygen sensors in your Camry. One before the catalytic converter and one after.
I'm going to assume by the price that the one they changed is the primary (before cat) sensor.
What this does is measure the oxygen level in the exhaust.
For gasoline fuel, the stoichiometric air/fuel mixture is approximately 14.7 times the mass of air to fuel. This is the mixture that modern engine management systems employing fuel injection attempt to achieve in light load cruise situations. Any mixture less than 14.7 to 1 is considered to be a rich mixture, any more than 14.7 to 1 is a lean mixture.
The sensor measures and informs the ECM to keep the air/fuel mixture as close to the stoichiometric ideal, as shown above.
A quick search online yielded a Bosch replacement sensor for your car at $263. I'm sure if I dug harder I could find it for less.
I'd bet I could change it out in less than 20 minutes. No rocket science involved whatsoever, just a $25 special socket.
It is always worthwhile and cost effective to do your own minor auto repairs. The satisfaction of doing it yourself also yields savings that can be directly applied to new audio goodies :-)
but that damn engine analyzer costs another $250.....
And most large autoparts stores like AutoZone will read your codes for free so they can sell you the parts.
Even real time scanners are getting to about $100. ODBII is nicely standardized, so one reader or scanner works on everything.
O2 sensors are a bit more complicated than that. They are precision micro-engineered devices, calibrated to keep engine operation within very tight tolerances. You can read up at the attached site.
I had my Toyota sensors pulled out recently, and I share your pain -- it wasn't cheap. But as was explained to me, the damn things are screwed into the exhaust manifold before and behind the exhaust gas entry, so they can measure the differences in gas mixtures, before and after combustion.
They corrode with the heat, so sometimes the mechanics can't get them out without breaking them. Then the seats they are screwed into have to also come out. This can add a couple extra hundred dollars to your tab. I don't know if this happened to you, but it could have something to do with your bill.
And I find it hard to believe you only had one removed. They usually come out in sets so the older ones aren't throwing off the readings fed back by the new one. It usually turns out to be false economy to change out only one. The micro-pores in the ceramic clog up with carbon if the engine has been running at non-optimum parameters.
Regarding the time involved, the mechanic has to check all operating parameters of your motor when emission control equipment is worked on or replaced. Emissions are critically effected by fuel-air mixtures, which are critically tuned by the feedback your O2 sensors and other components give your onboard computer. All these interacting gizmos and conditions take time to analyze. It's not simply a matter of wrenching a sensor in and out of your manifold. As an authorized dealer or repair shop working on emissions systems, their certifications depend on being sure this stuff is thorough and correct.
Hope this helps a little.
the O2 sensors fail because the platinum plating that is part of their construction reacts with the lead added to gasoline as an anti-knock additive ( and even so-called "unleaded" gasoline still has tetraethyl lead added to raise the octane rating)
Japan solved this in the late 1970's by legislating that gasoline had to be 100% lead-free; the oil refineries deliver 110 RON at the pump for Premium gas to compensate for the lack of lead additive ( which is only a chemical cheat to raise the octane of otherwise unsaleable gas )
Japanese domestic models don't suffer from catalyser/O2 sensor failures
Conclusion: bring a Class action; emigrate, or buy a horse
Uhm, as a lawyer the class action idea seems alluring. Let's see: Japan is too far and too expensive and I never really liked horses up close though I admire them from a distance...
..........……….I think the common thread between car dealers in Australia and the USofA is that they both have rip-off policies.
Here is my spin on your two questions.
One, If I am in business and have a $10 part to sell do I sell it for say, cost plus 50% margin ($15:00) or do I sell it for highest amount I can get away with, say $300? Bit of a no-brainer really isn’t it? (It doesn’t mean it is ‘right’ it is just reality)
Two, It is probably a 20 minute job but I’d rather charge for an hour because I can. (Again, it doesn’t make things ‘right’ but it is a reality)
I am a little amused about a question asking “how the hell can such a thing be almost $400?” on an audio site. :o)
FWIW I do sympathise with your frustration at the unjustified charges used at car dealerships. It is the very reason I no longer use them.
... Because the component must be audiofool quality at that price!
An hour that must include checking to make sure that nothing else was wrong, stripping down, replacement and putting it all back.
I think its probably unlikely they bill anything as under an hour these days.
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