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Are System Flushes a Rip Off?

(2003 Acura TL)
in Farmington, MI on April 27, 2009
I've been driving for decades and have kept at least a dozen well maintained cars well into mileage in the hundred thousands. Never, until now, has a mechanic suggested flushes of brake, power steering and transmission systems. Recently though I was sold these services for both my Acura (66,000 miles) and my Honda 2002 Accord (40000 miles) by the dealers. I now have second thoughts. The maintenance schedules in the manufacturers' owner's manuals make no mention of these flushes. Was I ripped off for expensive and unnecessary services by dealers I had learned to trust?
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Popular Answer
Brake fluid absorbs moisture from the air naturally. This moisture then in the brake fluid can cause rust and contamination in the brake fluid and lower the boiling point of the brake fluid. Brake fluid new is clear in color, brake fluid over time turns dark when it absorbs moisture and contaminants so I am a proponent of flushing the brake fluid particularly on cars with ABS brakes and in areas of the country where there is lots or moisture (rain, snow and or humidity).
Power steering fluid flushes on cars with known problematic steering components I would say yes flush the fluid periodically every 30,000 miles or if it smells burned (Acura use a special fluid). Transmission fluid drain and refill every 30,000 miles would be advisable but using the machines that flush fluid trough the transmission I have read about it causing sludge to dislodge and cause trouble occasionally on a transmission that had previously not show signs of problems.
All depend on your long term goals for your car. I believe in prevention rather than cure, many of our customers commute to work and have 200,000, 300,000 and one customer had 464,000 on the one engine.
There is a fine line to draw between selling preventive maintenance and "over selling work".
on February 06, 2011
Patrick you're a repair center I wouldn't expect you to say that these flushes are bad.I have had many cars and have driven hundreds of thousands of miles and never had aflush of any of the systems.The most was a transmission fluid change and transmission filter change.The old addage "if it isn't broke don't fix it holds true ....Ron Hrubes
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