Dear Tom and Ray:
We have a 2009 Toyota Camry. When our local mechanic was checking the brakes, he noted that the left rear strut was leaking fluid. He informed us of the issue, and since the car was still under warranty, I took it to the dealer. The dealer noted that it is normal for Camry struts to leak, and that unless it is gushing fluid, there is no issue. I then spoke with our mechanic, and he was very clear that struts are sealed, and that any leakage of fluid is very bad. What is your opinion? — Todd
Ray: Your mechanic is right. Struts are sealed, and the good ones never leak.
Tom: On the other hand, a small leak in a strut is not a sign of impending disaster. It's just disappointing. And it's a sign that the strut is going to get worse over time.
Ray: Right. It's like having a new car that burns oil, and having the dealer say, "That's normal." Well, it might be normal, but it shouldn't be normal, so it frosts your shorts.
Tom: So, since the car is still under warranty, I think you should go back to the Toyota dealer. Tell him that you're disappointed. Explain that another mechanic you trust told you the strut is beginning to fail and really should be replaced. And ask him to replace it for you under warranty, in the interests of making you a happy customer.
Ray: When that doesn't work, try crying, Todd.
Tom: He may argue that the shock still functions correctly, which probably is true. And that it's not an immediate safety issue — even if you ignore it, you won't have a disastrous or dangerous event while you're driving; you'll just need to replace it at some point.
Ray: But since we know it's starting to fail now, and the car is relatively new, why shouldn't Toyota take responsibility and fix it for you? Give it another shot, Todd. Push a little harder, and see if you can get him to help you out.
(Car Talk is a nationally syndicated column by automotive experts (and brothers) Tom and Ray Magliozzi. Write to them at the Car Talk website.)