Author Topic: How much car maintenance is really necessary?  (Read 14210 times)

Fortuna

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How much car maintenance is really necessary?
« on: January 11, 2015, 11:38:39 AM »
Need help from any mechanics out there.

Most of us probably agree service centers (dealer or otherwise) recommend some maintenance that is not needed.  2 years ago we bought a Chevy Cruze new and the dealer ship has a program you get free brake pads, batteries and tires for life of the car.  This amounts to $600 towards tire replacement and the cost of pads or batteries.

The catch is you maintain the car at the dealer and follow their service schedule.  Of course the schedule has more maintenance that strictly required, now after the first service I am trying to see if it is worth it. Here is some of the things they recommend;

1) Brake Service - cleaning and adjusting about every 20,000 km.  When is this really needed if at all?

2) Alignment - Every 25,000km.  At most I would suggest it be done when putting new tires on or it there is a problem

3) Miscellaneous other services:
-Power steering, seriously?
-Coolant flush, maybe once around 100,000 or more!
-AC Service, only if it stops working!
-Fuel system service, maybe every 50-70,000km at best?

I am certain that over the lifetime of the car you are breaking even at best and prepaying the dealer for the parts.  We had done on brake service and one alignment so far and that is the only extra services that we might not otherwise have done.  I am considering dropping this and just paying for what service is really needed and buying my own tires and pads.  Or maybe doing in till the first set of tires is needed and stopping after that since I have started and invested a bit of money so far.

So can the mechanics on here comment as to what is really needed from these services?

svi

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Re: How much car maintenance is really necessary?
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2015, 12:07:58 PM »
1) no - only need to do this when when replacing wear items, flush the fluid once every couple of years.
2) no - only need to do this for cause.
3) depends - coolant and power steering should be flushed every few years. Fuel filter maybe once over the lifetime of the car.

Hope this helps.

alberteh

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Re: How much car maintenance is really necessary?
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2015, 12:22:20 PM »
The recommended amount of car maintenance can be found in your manual. Since the dawn of automobiles dealerships are always trying to add to their bottom line.

Fortuna

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Re: How much car maintenance is really necessary?
« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2015, 02:21:30 PM »
Thanks guys - of course GM states the car does not need much maintenance.  That is a selling feature.  The thing about the manual is it simply states that brakes should be inspected every 12,000km, never does it recommend service or cleaning.

Davids

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Re: How much car maintenance is really necessary?
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2015, 07:57:59 PM »
My world of car maintenance

1) Change Oil every 6-7K miles (I probably could go longer)
2) Put in new Air Filter annually
3) Add air coolant when AC starts blowing hot air.
4) Get new tires every 50K miles
5) Put in new battery every 8-10 years
6) Start looking at brake pads when you hear the brake pads screech

Oh and the whole idea of warming up your car leaving idle for 5 mins or more in the winter is a myth. 30 secs is really all it needs (unless you are driving a car pre 1990 then you do need to warm it up for 5 mins), you are wasting gas if you leave it idle.


That is pretty much it.

zolotiyeruki

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Re: How much car maintenance is really necessary?
« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2015, 08:41:55 AM »
My world of car maintenance

1) Change Oil every 6-7K miles (I probably could go longer)
2) Put in new Air Filter annually
3) Add air coolant when AC starts blowing hot air.
4) Get new tires every 50K miles
5) Put in new battery every 8-10 years
6) Start looking at brake pads when you hear the brake pads screech

Oh and the whole idea of warming up your car leaving idle for 5 mins or more in the winter is a myth. 30 secs is really all it needs (unless you are driving a car pre 1990 then you do need to warm it up for 5 mins), you are wasting gas if you leave it idle.

Agree 100%.  Except for one thing: when I warm up my car in the winter, it's for *my* sake, not the car's! :D

HipGnosis

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Re: How much car maintenance is really necessary?
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2015, 10:32:46 AM »
From the son an auto mechanic who was a son of an auto mechanic (and I read a LOT about cars, motorcycles, etc.);

1) Brake Service - cleaning and adjusting about every 20,000 km. 
  20,000 km is INSANE   There is nothing to 'adjust'.  But brakes is one of the areas where maintenance is sooo much cheaper than repairing.   I inspect my brake pads every 65K (though actually I peek at em every tire rotation).  Change (flush) fluid every 4-5 yrs.

2) Alignment - Every 25,000km. 
  Also INSANE    Maybe 75K.   Simple alignment check; drive at 50 kpm  in a safe area.  Let go of steering wheel and apply brakes firmly.

-Power steering, seriously? 
   Only if there's a problem
-Coolant flush, maybe once around 100,000 or more!     
   Per the manual.  technology keeps changing
-AC Service, only if it stops working!
   Only if there's a problem
-Fuel system service, maybe every 50-70,000km at best?
   70K sounds about right

Some things vary quite a bit on how much you drive.
Tires - every 50-60K  OR every 5 yrs   Rubber hardens over time (sun exposure)
Oil - at least every yr
Battery - not driving much can be pretty hard on the battery, esp if you only do short trips.  Most (US) auto parts shops will test it for free - I'd test it at 4 yrs if mostly short trips.
Air Filter - follow the manuals 'severe duty' interval

I agree you should probably ride it out through your first new set of tires; and probably also a new battery.

newideas2013

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Re: How much car maintenance is really necessary?
« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2015, 12:37:56 PM »
Keep in mind dealers make more money on their service then car sales. There is a huge conflict of interest. It's like how Sony was selling PS3s at a loss in the early years knowing they'll make it back over a lifetime of ownership through game and digital content and accessory sales. Another analogy is Tassino could give everyone free coffee makers and still make money on the daily consumables (coffee pods). It's why new vehicle warranties are useless, if you didn't do your alignment at 25k they'll just deny your claim anyways.

Le Barbu

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Re: How much car maintenance is really necessary?
« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2015, 01:52:47 PM »
I remove the caliper's pins every 2 years and grease to avoid rust on them

Changing brake fluid cost 10$ for if you DIY, I do it every 3-4 years

Coolant is about 15$ to replace, I do it every 5 years

Manual tranny oil cost 15$, DIY every 100k miles

A/C: make sure A/C kicks in at least once a month. The gas and lubricant will self-maintain the system

Air filter 10$, DIY every 25k-50k miles if needed

Cabin air filter 20$, DIY every 25k-50k miles, air flow in the cabin will be more efficient

Power stering 5$ for a flush, DIY after 5-10 years depending of your milleage

Total: 75-100$ and a lot of new skills down the road!
« Last Edit: January 12, 2015, 06:25:06 PM by Le Barbu »

worms

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Re: How much car maintenance is really necessary?
« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2015, 02:33:49 PM »
A/C: make sure A/C kicks in at least once a month. The gas and lubricant will self-maintain the system

Lol! Probably good advice - my A/C only kicks in once a year, when I drive a couple of thousand km south for a vacation!

zolotiyeruki

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Re: How much car maintenance is really necessary?
« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2015, 02:44:35 PM »
Manual tranny oil cost 15$, DIY every 100k miles

Or own a car with a slow transmission leak, and you get easier transmission flushes :)

Le Barbu

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Re: How much car maintenance is really necessary?
« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2015, 06:24:24 PM »
A/C: make sure A/C kicks in at least once a month. The gas and lubricant will self-maintain the system

Lol! Probably good advice - my A/C only kicks in once a year, when I drive a couple of thousand km south for a vacation!

Where I live, cold weather makes us forget we have A/C feature on the car 8 months/year. This is why it get broke after only few years. I try to remember to turn it on at least once a month for few minutes

guitar_stitch

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Re: How much car maintenance is really necessary?
« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2015, 06:52:58 AM »
Manual tranny oil cost 15$, DIY every 100k miles

Or own a car with a slow transmission leak, and you get easier transmission flushes :)

...and waste a lot of oil, plus pollute the ground, not witholding the consideration of the possibility of driving your car low on lubricant.  Also, the old oil will thicken, so it will only be the new oil that leaks.  Science.

From the son an auto mechanic who was a son of an auto mechanic (and I read a LOT about cars, motorcycles, etc.);

1) Brake Service - cleaning and adjusting about every 20,000 km. 
  20,000 km is INSANE   There is nothing to 'adjust'.  But brakes is one of the areas where maintenance is sooo much cheaper than repairing.   I inspect my brake pads every 65K (though actually I peek at em every tire rotation).  Change (flush) fluid every 4-5 yrs.

2) Alignment - Every 25,000km. 
  Also INSANE    Maybe 75K.   Simple alignment check; drive at 50 kpm  in a safe area.  Let go of steering wheel and apply brakes firmly.

-Power steering, seriously? 
   Only if there's a problem
-Coolant flush, maybe once around 100,000 or more!     
   Per the manual.  technology keeps changing
-AC Service, only if it stops working!
   Only if there's a problem
-Fuel system service, maybe every 50-70,000km at best?
   70K sounds about right

Some things vary quite a bit on how much you drive.
Tires - every 50-60K  OR every 5 yrs   Rubber hardens over time (sun exposure)
Oil - at least every yr
Battery - not driving much can be pretty hard on the battery, esp if you only do short trips.  Most (US) auto parts shops will test it for free - I'd test it at 4 yrs if mostly short trips.
Air Filter - follow the manuals 'severe duty' interval

I agree you should probably ride it out through your first new set of tires; and probably also a new battery.


-If your alignment drifts, it's because things get damaged or worn out.  An alignment will not correct a failing ball joint.  I only align when suspension work has been done to the vehicle. YMMV.
-I would inspect the brakes more often than 65k.  At least once every other year, they should be disassembled and cleaned/re-greased on the moving parts.  If you have drum brakes, you do have some adjustments that can be made.  Adjustment services will also cover your parking brake cable adjustments.  This is maybe an hour of DIY, a couple cans of brake cleaner, and a six pack.
-Power steering fluid does break down due to heat and moisture contamination.  It should be changed maybe every 5 years at the most.  Could probably go longer, but you risk your seals.
-The battery life can be maintained much better by employing a trickle charger when the vehicle is not being driven for long periods.

Everything else seems spot on.

JLee

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Re: How much car maintenance is really necessary?
« Reply #13 on: January 13, 2015, 07:33:44 AM »
Follow the maintenance schedule that's listed in the manual. That's all.

guitar_stitch

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Re: How much car maintenance is really necessary?
« Reply #14 on: January 14, 2015, 07:05:53 AM »
Follow the maintenance schedule that's listed in the manual. That's all.

Safest bet for the car, and also the most expensive.  Perfect for people that don't want to think about it.  Example: many of your older vehicles call for a 3000 mile oil change.  Even conventional has been proven to be effective much longer than that.  Running synthetic further increases the interval.

paddedhat

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Re: How much car maintenance is really necessary?
« Reply #15 on: January 14, 2015, 07:54:59 AM »
Follow the maintenance schedule that's listed in the manual. That's all.


Unfortunately, a lot of the marketing game anymore is selling the delusion that vehicles are nearly maintenance free. Manuals (or onboard minders) that tell you that it's OK to change oil every 11-13K miles, "lifetime" coolant, and sealed "life of the car" transmissions are all part of the game. If you are driving a car into the ground over a decade, or two, you are only screwing yourself by believing this BS.

Case in point. In 2000 we bought a new domestic sedan that had a well known reputation for being a piece of crap.  Engines that sludge up, and a whole list of other alleged failings. We did silly things like every 2-3 years it got a total trans. service, and coolant and brake flushes. Oil changes were every 5K, all issues were addressed promptly, and the car was never abused. Ten years later, with almost 200k of trouble free driving,  it was nearly given to the garage that serviced it. They ran it for another five as a daily loaner. The car was then given to an employee, and is still used every day. In all that time, it has had one repair for a issue that was not a wear item (AC condenser) In 300K miles with countless drivers, it has been spectacularly cheap to own, and operate. Had I done like many other owners, and went with a 10K oil change interval, the car would of been scrapped well before it go to 150K, since the engines would fail due to sludging. Good used engines are rare and expensive, an rebuilt units are unusually expensive, since it is hard to find usable cores.

It's your dime, but it's best to take any manufacturer's maintenance info. with a grain of salt. Any car that "never" needs transmission maintenance, or a coolant flush, yet needs a new cabin air filter ever year, is probably not going to last for decades, if you follow the book.

HipGnosis

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Re: How much car maintenance is really necessary?
« Reply #16 on: January 14, 2015, 11:59:41 AM »
Where I live, cold weather makes us forget we have A/C feature on the car 8 months/year. This is why it get broke after only few years. I try to remember to turn it on at least once a month for few minutes
Most cars now turn on the A/C when you turn on the defroster.  Not sure when that became popular/standard.

imbros

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Re: How much car maintenance is really necessary?
« Reply #17 on: January 14, 2015, 12:56:21 PM »
My world of car maintenance

1) Change Oil every 6-7K miles (I probably could go longer)
2) Put in new Air Filter annually
3) Add air coolant when AC starts blowing hot air.
4) Get new tires every 50K miles
5) Put in new battery every 8-10 years
6) Start looking at brake pads when you hear the brake pads screech

Oh and the whole idea of warming up your car leaving idle for 5 mins or more in the winter is a myth. 30 secs is really all it needs (unless you are driving a car pre 1990 then you do need to warm it up for 5 mins), you are wasting gas if you leave it idle.


That is pretty much it.

Great summary. I will add a few more things.
I would replace the battery in every 5 years. After 5 years, you are greatly increasing the risk of 'not being able to start the car when you need it the most'.
If living in a cold climate change the engine coolant in every 5 years as well.
Drain and refill the transmission fluid in every 80k miles or so even if the owner's manual states that the fluid is for lifetime of the car.

dunhamjr

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Re: How much car maintenance is really necessary?
« Reply #18 on: January 14, 2015, 02:26:11 PM »
most 'car maintenance' is not at all hard.

take a look at those 15k,30k...etc checkups and half or more of the items are about visual inspection, topping off fluids, replacing filters... etc.

not a big deal.

there will of course be more complex items, timing belt changes, etc.  but those a typically LONG term items every 60-100k miles.  they can be planned for.  they can be DIY done with the right skills, tools.  or find a reputable independent shop to do the work for 1/2 to 1/3 of dealer prices.

JLee

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Re: How much car maintenance is really necessary?
« Reply #19 on: January 15, 2015, 11:49:52 AM »
Follow the maintenance schedule that's listed in the manual. That's all.


Unfortunately, a lot of the marketing game anymore is selling the delusion that vehicles are nearly maintenance free. Manuals (or onboard minders) that tell you that it's OK to change oil every 11-13K miles, "lifetime" coolant, and sealed "life of the car" transmissions are all part of the game. If you are driving a car into the ground over a decade, or two, you are only screwing yourself by believing this BS.

Case in point. In 2000 we bought a new domestic sedan that had a well known reputation for being a piece of crap.  Engines that sludge up, and a whole list of other alleged failings. We did silly things like every 2-3 years it got a total trans. service, and coolant and brake flushes. Oil changes were every 5K, all issues were addressed promptly, and the car was never abused. Ten years later, with almost 200k of trouble free driving,  it was nearly given to the garage that serviced it. They ran it for another five as a daily loaner. The car was then given to an employee, and is still used every day. In all that time, it has had one repair for a issue that was not a wear item (AC condenser) In 300K miles with countless drivers, it has been spectacularly cheap to own, and operate. Had I done like many other owners, and went with a 10K oil change interval, the car would of been scrapped well before it go to 150K, since the engines would fail due to sludging. Good used engines are rare and expensive, an rebuilt units are unusually expensive, since it is hard to find usable cores.

It's your dime, but it's best to take any manufacturer's maintenance info. with a grain of salt. Any car that "never" needs transmission maintenance, or a coolant flush, yet needs a new cabin air filter ever year, is probably not going to last for decades, if you follow the book.

'97 LX450 with 213k, '99 Tacoma with 283k (just sold)..had a '98 Tacoma with 198k when it rusted apart. I generally buy Toyotas, and they generally run...and run...and run...

Out of curiosity, what vehicles aren't recommending brake fluid or coolant changes?  My '07 Lexus calls for a brake fluid change every 30k and coolant inspection every 15k, as well as transfer case/transmission inspection / check for leaks. I haven't heard of a transmission failure either, but I may have the trans flushed anyway. Not too sure on those lifetime-fluids myself.

paddedhat

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Re: How much car maintenance is really necessary?
« Reply #20 on: January 15, 2015, 05:42:10 PM »
There seems to be plenty of manufacturers that differ quite a bit from your Lexus / Toyota products. I didn't recall ever seeing a recommendation to change brake fluid on any of the GM trucks I have owned, and a quick Google search confirms that. GM also recommends 5yrs or 150K intervals for their infamous Dexcool coolant. I doubt you would find too many GM techs. that would abuse their personal vehicles by following that schedule. As for transmissions, it's your money, but I don't buy the claim, by Toyota and others, that with scheduled leak and level inspections, the fluid should last the life of the car. I'll spend a few hundred bucks to get the thing totally serviced every few years, and pass on the huge cost of replacing a worn out unit. BTW, the only trans. failure I have had in the last twenty years was a used Focus that I got cheap, with 70k on it, with the knowledge that the previous owner was quite lax on maintaining the thing.

cartechguy

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Re: How much car maintenance is really necessary?
« Reply #21 on: January 15, 2015, 06:01:35 PM »
The dealer wants you there as much as possible.  The one thing I always told my customers to do was CHANGE that oil on a regular basis USING synthetic oil.  Its one of the cheapest things you can do on your car to keep that engine in good order.  All the flushes are a money maker but getting the trans flushed is important.  But, make sure that its getting all of the trans fluid out with a machine and are really flushing it ALL OUT!!  In my years as an ASE tech I have seen many cars go well over 300k with just a bit of servicing.  Before I retired and moved to FL I had a 98 Toyota Avalon with 379k miles ORGINAL transmission and engine!!  Timing belts are VERY important if the car has an interference engine and save money while your doing that too and replace the water pump

PeachFuzzInVA

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Re: How much car maintenance is really necessary?
« Reply #22 on: February 02, 2015, 03:13:35 PM »
Most of that stuff is snake oil. Driving conditions and habits vary from driver to driver, so you can't put a set mileage interval on services.

At my previous dealership (Toyota), we used test strips to check each fluid in the vehicles when we'd service them. Not once did I ever see a strip come up on a vehicle needing the brake fluid changed. If you have to replace a caliper, hose, or master cylinder, do it then, but otherwise I think you're wasting your money.

Most vehicles use transmission fluid as a power steering fluid. I DO believe in changing your power steering fluid on an as-needed basis. In other words, when it starts to turn brown, change it.

Most coolants these days are designed to last 100,000 miles unless you're using the old green stuff. That stuff (and you can include GM Dexcool) is  pretty notorious for breaking down quickly, so I would shorten that interval by quite a bit. I've replaced more radiators than I can count because people have failed to flush their coolant system. Check it regularly, when it starts not looking like its original color anymore, change it.

Most everybody's "A/C service" is nothing more than spraying a can of frigi-fresh into the vents and cleaning out the drain hose. If your vents start to stink or you start getting water dripping into the floorboard when the A/C is on, it's time to do it.

Air filters/cabin filters. Check them at each oil change interval. Hold them up to the light. If you can't see light, change them.

Cleaning/Adjusting brakes on a vehicle with disc brakes is stealing. If your parking brake isn't loose, don't do it. Check the brake pads every oil change. If they seem to be wearing unevenly, pull the caliper slide pins out and lubricate them. Otherwise, change the pads when they get to 2/32" and you're fine. No need to replace your rotors or resurface them every time you change your brakes. If they're not vibrating when you brake, they're fine. It's just our way of getting an extra $100+ out of you.

For alignments, obviously if the vehicle is pulling to one side or the other and the tire pressures are correct, you more than likely need an alignment. Otherwise, keep an eye on the wear patterns on the tires. A vehicle can be out of alignment and not necessarily have a pull. It can be toe'd in or out, the camber can be off, etc. You'll know by the way the tires are wearing. If they start wearing unevenly, align it.

Fuel services are hit and miss. With the new found popularity of turbo engines, I do think they're important, but for those of you (like me) who are running older vehicles, a quality fuel is pretty sufficient for keeping the injectors and valves clean. Stick with a brand you've heard of...Shell, BP, Sunoco. Stay away from Sheetz, Citgo, and mom and pop's station on the corner. Clean your throttle body when you start to feel a little rough idle.

Oil changes are very dependent on your driving habits. If you do mostly highway driving, you can squeeze a lot of extra mileage out of your oil. If you're driving in the city, obviously you need to change your oil quite a bit more frequently.

Last, but definitely NOT least...change your transmission fluid as often as you can reasonably afford to do it. This is the single most important aspect of getting a car to last a long time. I cannot stress this enough, there's no such thing as a lifetime fluid. Your transmission gets almost as hot as your engine does and you change your engine oil every 5k-15k miles so why would you ever go 100,000 miles between transmission fluid changes? Think about it and change your transmission fluid frequently.

paddedhat

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Re: How much car maintenance is really necessary?
« Reply #23 on: February 02, 2015, 03:33:12 PM »
Nic, I agree 100% with 90% of what you wrote. I'll just have to politely disagree on the brake fluid. I have seen way too much fluid that has shocking amounts of debris in it, when I do my own flushes, and frequently notice dramatic improvement in pedal feel with fresh juice in the system.. My best friend is a really sharp wrench who got me into the habit of doing the flush every 2-3yrs or so. It's probably been fifteen years since I started, and that was the last time I had issues with stuck, and leaking calipers. It's a couple of bucks an a half hour of time to DIY it, so I can't see not doing it.

X 100 on the trans. maintenance, BTW. On my towing trucks or RV, I regularly have the pan dropped and the filter changed too. I'm hiding in Fl. for the winter. I just watched a 5th wheel and older F350 roll into the campground. The truck looked pristine, and had 90K on it. When he hit reverse the auto trans. grenaded. It's at the dealer now, and the owner was told that I would be about $5K for a new trans. Expensive lesson.

PeachFuzzInVA

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Re: How much car maintenance is really necessary?
« Reply #24 on: February 02, 2015, 03:48:36 PM »
Nic, I agree 100% with 90% of what you wrote. I'll just have to politely disagree on the brake fluid. I have seen way too much fluid that has shocking amounts of debris in it, when I do my own flushes, and frequently notice dramatic improvement in pedal feel with fresh juice in the system.. My best friend is a really sharp wrench who got me into the habit of doing the flush every 2-3yrs or so. It's probably been fifteen years since I started, and that was the last time I had issues with stuck, and leaking calipers. It's a couple of bucks an a half hour of time to DIY it, so I can't see not doing it.

X 100 on the trans. maintenance, BTW. On my towing trucks or RV, I regularly have the pan dropped and the filter changed too. I'm hiding in Fl. for the winter. I just watched a 5th wheel and older F350 roll into the campground. The truck looked pristine, and had 90K on it. When he hit reverse the auto trans. grenaded. It's at the dealer now, and the owner was told that I would be about $5K for a new trans. Expensive lesson.

Fair assessment. I've been sat down and lectured by management more times than I care to admit for not selling enough flushes, but I have to sleep at night and I refuse to make my living by ripping people off. It's a huge moneymaker in our industry. I work at BMW now and they actually have an indicator that comes on every 2 years for the brake fluid to be changed.
« Last Edit: February 02, 2015, 03:50:34 PM by Nic »

Le Barbu

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Re: How much car maintenance is really necessary?
« Reply #25 on: February 02, 2015, 06:05:56 PM »
Brake fluid flush on my Civic cost me 10$ for the fluid and I did it while permuting the tires, it took 10 more minutes than usual. I got enough fluid to flush the clutch as well, another 10 minutes. Color of old stuff was disgusting

JLee

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Re: How much car maintenance is really necessary?
« Reply #26 on: February 02, 2015, 07:53:42 PM »
Brake fluid flush on my Civic cost me 10$ for the fluid and I did it while permuting the tires, it took 10 more minutes than usual. I got enough fluid to flush the clutch as well, another 10 minutes. Color of old stuff was disgusting

Yup. Brake fluid absorbs moisture and when the moisture content starts to creep up, boiling point goes down. As brake fluid absorbs an immense amount of heat, boiling is bad.

paddedhat

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Re: How much car maintenance is really necessary?
« Reply #27 on: February 02, 2015, 08:04:24 PM »

 I've been sat down and lectured by management more times than I care to admit for not selling enough flushes, but I have to sleep at night and I refuse to make my living by ripping people off. It's a huge moneymaker in our industry. .

For the benefit of others here, could you expand on how dealership management pushes the hell out of techs. to generate dollars. I know how it works, but it's always nice to hear it from a pro.

Last year I sent our newer CRV in for warranty on two issues. A failed rear differential pump module and factory steel rims that were rust streaked within a few weeks of their first winter use. Both items took multiple visits and 4-6 months to resolve, BTW. To the point, however. On the first visit, I spent half an hour in the waiting room until the service advisor showed up. He then "advises" that I replace the air cleaner, cabin air filter and do a full "brake service" since the rotors look pretty rough.  All for the bargain price of over $400. I politely declined, since the brakes were just fine, and the whole filter scam was just flat out bullshit. At this point I also get him to admit that even though the car was in the bay, and up on the lift, the last half hour was pissed away searching for anything they could possibly think of to generate a sale, and they had done absolutely nothing to address why the car was there in the first place.

In the end they made it clear that getting the car repaired was of little interest, and grossly overbilling for unnecessary service and maintenance was the name of the game. The differential was repaired after I did the research, called the service manager, told him what the issue was, How Honda was addressing the problem, and gave him the part number for the redesigned replacement part. Until that point, there was nobody in the entire building who bother to read the TSB on the issue. No need to educate yourself on how to repair the product when you can be selling $40 air filters and $256 brake tune ups ( no pads or rotors included, btw, just turning the rotors and lubing the slides. which costs me $40 and two hours at home.)

I truly feel sorry for any hard working, honest tech. it's become a whore's game in dealerships anymore. My buddy works in an independent shop that does a lot of work on expensive Euro and Japanese stuff. A lot of his clients are there not to save money, even though they are about 20-30% less per hour. They are there because they just get sick of all the games, and battles fought to get the dealer to do the job correctly, the first time. 

kendallf

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Re: How much car maintenance is really necessary?
« Reply #28 on: February 02, 2015, 08:20:21 PM »
I hear dealer stories, and it's like a strange foreign country to me.  I believe the only thing I have had someone else do on my cars in the past 20 years were a couple of A/C charges and one FWD transaxle rebuild.

I believe in oil changes, occasional coolant flushes, inspecting belts and hoses, and otherwise mostly benign neglect.  :-)

m8547

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Re: How much car maintenance is really necessary?
« Reply #29 on: February 02, 2015, 08:48:08 PM »
Most of that stuff is snake oil. Driving conditions and habits vary from driver to driver, so you can't put a set mileage interval on services.

At my previous dealership (Toyota), we used test strips to check each fluid in the vehicles when we'd service them. Not once did I ever see a strip come up on a vehicle needing the brake fluid changed. If you have to replace a caliper, hose, or master cylinder, do it then, but otherwise I think you're wasting your money.

Most vehicles use transmission fluid as a power steering fluid. I DO believe in changing your power steering fluid on an as-needed basis. In other words, when it starts to turn brown, change it.

Most coolants these days are designed to last 100,000 miles unless you're using the old green stuff. That stuff (and you can include GM Dexcool) is  pretty notorious for breaking down quickly, so I would shorten that interval by quite a bit. I've replaced more radiators than I can count because people have failed to flush their coolant system. Check it regularly, when it starts not looking like its original color anymore, change it.

Most everybody's "A/C service" is nothing more than spraying a can of frigi-fresh into the vents and cleaning out the drain hose. If your vents start to stink or you start getting water dripping into the floorboard when the A/C is on, it's time to do it.

Air filters/cabin filters. Check them at each oil change interval. Hold them up to the light. If you can't see light, change them.

Cleaning/Adjusting brakes on a vehicle with disc brakes is stealing. If your parking brake isn't loose, don't do it. Check the brake pads every oil change. If they seem to be wearing unevenly, pull the caliper slide pins out and lubricate them. Otherwise, change the pads when they get to 2/32" and you're fine. No need to replace your rotors or resurface them every time you change your brakes. If they're not vibrating when you brake, they're fine. It's just our way of getting an extra $100+ out of you.

For alignments, obviously if the vehicle is pulling to one side or the other and the tire pressures are correct, you more than likely need an alignment. Otherwise, keep an eye on the wear patterns on the tires. A vehicle can be out of alignment and not necessarily have a pull. It can be toe'd in or out, the camber can be off, etc. You'll know by the way the tires are wearing. If they start wearing unevenly, align it.

Fuel services are hit and miss. With the new found popularity of turbo engines, I do think they're important, but for those of you (like me) who are running older vehicles, a quality fuel is pretty sufficient for keeping the injectors and valves clean. Stick with a brand you've heard of...Shell, BP, Sunoco. Stay away from Sheetz, Citgo, and mom and pop's station on the corner. Clean your throttle body when you start to feel a little rough idle.

Oil changes are very dependent on your driving habits. If you do mostly highway driving, you can squeeze a lot of extra mileage out of your oil. If you're driving in the city, obviously you need to change your oil quite a bit more frequently.

Last, but definitely NOT least...change your transmission fluid as often as you can reasonably afford to do it. This is the single most important aspect of getting a car to last a long time. I cannot stress this enough, there's no such thing as a lifetime fluid. Your transmission gets almost as hot as your engine does and you change your engine oil every 5k-15k miles so why would you ever go 100,000 miles between transmission fluid changes? Think about it and change your transmission fluid frequently.

"Top Tier Gas" supposedly has extra detergents that keep your fuel system clean. It's supposedly endorsed by major auto manufacturers like GM, Honda, BMW, VW, Toyota, Mercedes. http://www.toptiergas.com/retailers.html
I'm skeptical because someone is probably making money off this, but it seams reasonable enough, and it's available from a wide variety of gas stations.

Transmission fluid in the power steering seems to be a Toyota thing. Go with what the owner's manual recommends.

Many manufacturers recommend regular brake fluid changes. Honda is every 3 years, and I think BMW is every two years. I don't know why Toyota doesn't recommend it, since it's hard to believe their system is better than those other ones. On a particular Toyota vehicle forum I'm on, there are numerous reports of stuck calipers and a few reports of ABS/VSC booster/pump/controller failure. I suspect fresh brake fluid would reduce the chances of that happening. For the calipers, at least, it seems like moisture gets past the seals and corrodes the area around the piston. A test strip in the reservoir would never pick that up. And it's always possible for debris to get in the system if a seal starts to break up or if there's some corrosion.

Frequent automatic transmission fluid changes are good because in many cases you can't get it all out at once, so you are only changing part of the fluid.

It's really unfortunate how car maintenance is so profit-driven. Service departments just want to get as much money as possible. Car companies want to have low maintenance cost for the first 100k miles and only need the car to last as long as Consumer Reports considers for their reliability ratings. And then they want you to buy a new one. From now on, I do all my own maintenance because I have my best interests in mind. I can afford to buy all the tools for anything the dealer would do for less than whatever they would charge me.

pagoconcheques

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Re: How much car maintenance is really necessary?
« Reply #30 on: February 03, 2015, 03:04:08 PM »
If you're planning on keeping a car a long time, buy a lifetime wheel alignment from a nearby tire shop.  It typically costs 1.5 to 2x the cost of a single alignment but allows you to have the wheels checked and aligned free every 5k miles or 6 months as long as you own the vehicle. 

As far as scheduled maintenance goes, the cost-saving trick is to get mechanics to follow only the manufacture-described maintenance in the owner's manual as opposed to their own recommended procedures. 

I think it is safe to increase all the manufacture's recommended intervals by about 10% if you are very good about keeping records, checking your oil, etc.