When we had tires put on our two year old...

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Mar 01, 1994

Dear Tom and Ray:

When we had tires put on our two year old Chevy Lumina, the mechanic told us that one of our rear struts was leaking and needed to be replaced. My question is, why are struts so expensive?? The dealership wanted over $550 for the rears only. Does this sound reasonable to you?

RAY: It sounds like your dealer had a major boat payment coming due, Syd. The "Genuine GM" parts themselves cost about $175 each. Even if you add in two hours labor, state, federal, local, and neighborhood civic association taxes, they're still overcharging you by about 100 bucks.

TOM: So I'd go somewhere else, Syd, and probably not to another dealer. There are cases in which original equipment parts ARE much better than aftermarket parts, but this isn't one of those cases. A "Midas Muffler" or similar institution of higher wrench-turning will charge you less than half of what the dealer wants for rear struts. And they'll be fine.

RAY: True, they won't be the same struts that came with the car. But if those were so good, why did they only last two years?

Get the Car Talk Newsletter