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2004 Malibu Response Lxi strut replacement

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2004 Malibu Response Lxi w/approx. 200 hrs. Bought new and have had two prop replacements (often trashy water). Had vibration when in gear w/no addtl. throttle and steering turned almost all the way in one direction (right, I think). Vibration starts and gets worse to a point while boat is circling. No vibration straight or other direction and disappears when throttle is applied. No vibration at speed. Was going to replace strut bushings myself but after researching was concerned about my inexperience and possibly having shaft realignment, needing special tools and new shaft seal.

Took to dealer. Dealer said new strut was cheaper than two bushings at $180 (rather than $93/bushing).

Yesterday, when they called I asked about rough estimate of how much $ this would run me. They said I was under $250 and all that remained was a water test to confirm the fix.

Total bill today was $415 with 2 3/4 hours labor.

I was a bit angered at the increase.

Does that seem too high priced for the job?

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I don't think 2.75 hours is too bad to change a strut and water test, however the fact the price changed from $250 to $415 doesn't sound right.


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that is really good if they did a shaft aliment also!!

Plus1.gif With current labor rates, plus parts, that seems like a pretty good price.

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Thank you all for the feedback.

To the best of my knowledge they did not do a shaft alignment. I'll ask about that to confirm. I just assumed that the removal of the drive shaft would require a shaft alignment upon reconnect and I didn't want to do that myself.

Is drive shaft alignment after removal and reconnect of drive shaft to replace strut required?

Is a shaft seal replacement required on this job?

Are there other parts?

I probably wouldn't have thought too much about the $412 price for this work if they had given me a better quote to begin with. They (pretty sure it was mechanic) called me on 3/23 at 1PM and gave me a "you're under $250" quote saying work was completed except for a remaining water test which was estimated to take 1/2 hour. Then on 3/24 (yesterday) at 10:30AM they (office) called me and said the total was $412. It was a surprise to me going from $250 to $414.

Maybe it's hard to estimate this kind of work? Or maybe they just didn't tell me about all the parts they had to replace. At least I'll know more about what this will cost next time (We run in trashy waters on Cedar River and Corallville Lake in Iowa so I'm sure there'll be a next time).

Since you all have said the price is reasonable I won't further dispute it with dealer.

Thanks again for any feedback. Great website!

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It doesn't sound too high overall - particularly with the part costing $180, but I agree that the difference between quote & final price is an issue.

With the strut replacement, they should have checked & aligned the engine. The strut is going to be one of the main components in the alignment of the drive shaft, so alignment would really need to be checked after replacement.

They should have also checked the shaft to make sure it was not bent.

I wouldn't expect that they would have disconnect or remove the shaft to just replace the strut or check if shaft was bent.

They would have to remove it to straighten it.

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Sounds like the mechanic (or whoever called you) was talking either parts or labor, not both. When I first began reading your post, I could not believe the $250 price tag for what you were talking about.

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Is a water test sufficient to check drive shaft alignment? (how do service techs check this)

If not, I should confirm (er, probably demand) that they checked it properly, right?

Sorry, I don't mean to sound snobby against dealer/service techs at all, but in this situation I was the first Malibu boat sale from this dealer in 2004. They did not have qualified service for Malibu until like a year after that (as far as I know). So due to my assumption of inexperience, I've been very hesitant to take the boat there for anything beyond oil change and winterization (both which I do myself now). In this case though I didn't want to try and do this myself because I know I'm not experienced.

Thanks for all the info.

If any of you ever get to Cedar Rapids and need 2 ski, feel free to email [email protected] Rockon.gif .

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It should be checked with a feeler gauge to .003". Easy to adjust/dial in on a DD.

A water test is not the proper way to ensure everything is lined up, and off alignment may not present as a vibration in the drive system.

Also FWIW I've never replaced a strut and NOT had to do alignment afterwards.


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Water test is not sufficient.

To check it, they unbolt the drive shaft coupler (4 bolts) & use a .003 feeler gauge between the trans output & the drive shaft coupler. Relatively easy & quick if no alignment adjustments were necessary.

Full instructions are available at quite a few places.

Edit - Oops - Chris posted while I was editing...

Edited by wienrdog
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Thanks for the quick response.

u guys rock!

I'm on my way to pick it up right now. I'll confirm that they performed alignment. If not, well I'm concerned and I guess i'll have 2 make a choice--have them fix more or take to anothersvc shop. Hmm, i'll post findings.

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Well, the total I got charged was $426. I asked how it went from $412 to $426 and the woman said that someone must have told me the wrong number Dontknow.gif

Not a big deal because I took 1/2 a day off for this but I was there for a half hour before I got *almost* everything. While they pulled the boat out of shed, I asked the office person about shaft alignment but she said I would have to talk to the service tech.

So then I got distracted while hitching the boat up to my truck. I noticed they forgot to give me the old strut brace back (i had told them that I wanted it for a spare since it was not damaged). Then they misplaced my trailer wiring harness adapter but eventually found it.

Then after a few trips back and forth I finally asked about whether the drive shaft was aligned but I think I was talking to the wrong guy. He said that there are adjustment set screws in the strut and they adjusted those. Since I didn't have the alignment notes in front of me (from posts above) and they had already interrupted the very busy service tech like 3 times already to locate my boat, find the old strut and locate my wiring harness adapter, I decided I would just send email asking about the alignment later. That way I can ask get the tech. stuff right in my question.

I'll post the response later.


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Sounds like you could have had a better experience.

Where do you ski? I use to live in Iowa City and skied at the Waterhawks site. Very nice people, and you can't beat the membership fee.

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Ok, I sent the email questions to the boat dealer this morning. I'll post the reply I get. I pray they did the job correctly...

bretski75, no the experience wasn't really as bad as I may have made it sound (sorry 'bout that). I had just hoped that the service shop / dealer would have given me an estimate prior to starting the work and then when finished, kept the price that they quoted on the phone. Maybe I just expect too much. I have to say though, I'm grateful for this website.

BTW, I ski 3 or more times per week if possible in quite a few places (to keep it interesting) but mostly mornings on the Cedar River and mornings on Coralville Lake (from Sandy Beach ramp or from Mahaffee ramp). I mostly try to barefoot ski with friends and/or family when the wind speed is low or nonexistent and the boat traffic is at a minimum or nonexistent. I have a friend in Minn. that I skied with a few times per summer but he'll be moving away for a year so I may only get to Minn. if I go to some BF tourneys this summer. Sometimes I slalom ski or goof around on a kneeboard or wakeboard besides BF. I skied for the Five Seasons Ski Team in 1999,2000 and then later in 2004, 2005--they keep trying to get me to join again but the team commitment is difficult w/wife and 2 kids and I have some BF goals and get a lot more skiing since I left. Someday I may go back...when I'm happy with my BF skiing ability and feel qualified to help out others with it. If you want to try skiing with me sometime, send me an email at [email protected] with a phone# I can reach you at and I'll call you a day before we go with a time and place.

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Got an update today at 11AM from sales contact, Jeremy (a gentleman I spoke with when I picked up the boat--he originally gave me a test drive of a 98 Response Lx before I bought my boat).

He said that their service technician, Kevin, has been around inboards for over 20 years and he definitely checked the drive shaft alignment using a feeler gauge. He said that 9 times out of 10 that there is no shimming required unless it was a hard hit. He said if I had any questions I could call their office or Jeremy on his cell (provided his cell number).

I guess that finalizes this issue for me for now. The only other question I might have is whether the drive shaft seal packing was in acceptable condition, but that will be fairly obvious once the boat is in the water, and knowing that they checked alignment I'm sure I can assume they inspected the packing.

So, other than the price misquote, which the owner personally apologized for, I would completely recommend Lake Delhi Marina located in Manchester, Iowa for this kind of service.

Thank you all for your time and assistance on this.

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I would suspect that one of the reasons for testing the boat in water was to check the packing and adjust if needed. It's the one part of the job that can't be done in the shop.

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  • 1 month later...

I have an identical vibration in my 2004 Response LXI. I've never hit anything and my wife and I just recently noticed the vibration. It's in a right turn, at idle in gear. Orlando Malibu dealer says "strut bushings don't go bad very often" but I suspect that's what it is since I can push the shaft back and forth about 1/16th of an inch (eyeball guess). He said that much movement was "normal".

Can you tell me if this took care of the issue?



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