You Do Have a Choice When It Comes to Maintenance

Audra Fordin
December 19, 2011

Want to see what ticks me off royally?

A woman just showed me a receipt of so called "maintenance" that was sold to her at another shop. She purchased the maintenance, but why did she do it? Because she felt intimidated and felt like she had no choice.

Let me assure you ladies and gentleman, this is America and we do have a choice. If you look at your maintenance schedule—you know, that book buried underneath all of the junk in your glove box—you will know exactly what maintenance you need and when you need it. And if it’s not in the book, the service technician better have a really good explanation of why you need to buy it!

Here are just a few things that you might be offered that you really don’t need.

Fuel Injection Cleaning
A fuel injection cleaning is not a bad thing. In fact, with the price of gas today, it’s not a bad idea to clean the carbon buildup off of your fuel injectors. But you only need to do this around every 30,000 miles, not every six months.

Gas Mileage Improvements
Because the price of gas has sky rocketed these past few years, there are some very creative shops out there who will offer you a magic bullet (or gadget or fairy dust) that is supposed to increase your gas mileage. These are probably the same people who try to sell pills that will make you lose 50 pounds and 5 inches in 5 days. I give them credit—they are creative. But it doesn’t work, so don’t buy it.

“Long Life” Coolant
Extended life coolant is not a smart buy. There is no evidence to prove it’s any better than the coolant your car was born with. And I can promise you—no matter what coolant you put in, your cooling system will still form sediments and deposits that need to be flushed out. And in the winter and summer, when coolant needs to be spot on, if you buy the 100K mile "dream" coolant in place of your recommended coolant service maintenance, you could very well be the smoking car stranded on the side of the road.

Engine Flush
For those of you who actually do maintain your car and change your oil on a regular basis, you never need to have your engine flushed. The engine flush is a high powered machine with harsh chemicals that eliminate sludge buildup from thick, neglected motor oil buildup in the engine. If you maintain your vehicle, that buildup won’t even occur in the first place.

Audra Fordin

About the Author

Audra Fordin is the owner and operator of Great Bear Auto Repair in Flushing, New York, which specializes in foreign, domestic and hybrid vehicles.

2 User Comments

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By , December 20, 2011
When I got a tune up on my dodge caravan 1999 cost was $188. The very next day i could hear a squeak. Like the serpentene belt or something started squeeking. Also there was oil on the garage floor. To make a long story short. Another mechanic told me he had to install a new hose for cowl dranin to keep water from running on belt an pulleys. He also replaced the belt and tensioner. Do you think the guy who did my tune up disconnected my hose from the cowl drain that caused water to run down on the belt and pulley squeek? Do you think it was necessary for the other mechanic to replace the belt and tensioner? The cost was $205.47
By , September 05, 2012
The very first question I have is what was done to you caravan that you are calling a tune-up? These days that phrase can mean a lot of things. It appears that the oil on your garage floor could be as simple as a loose drain plug or oil filter or oil spilled on the frame when the oil was changed. Keep an eye on your oil level. Also the fan belt and tensioner are a problem of these caravans. It would be reasonable to conclude that the first mechanic did not notice a problem with the fan belt. If the first mechanic replaced the spark plugs, it is easier to remove the cowl. So maybe he forget to reconnect the drain. I will also suggest finding a shop that you can trust. Then if a problem develops after a repair, take it back and ask them to take a look. Many times things that happen after a repair are consequential and not deliberate. But if you trust your repair shop and they are honest, they will admit if they made a mistake. To find that honest and reputable repair shop look for affiliations with the BBB, AAA and ASA (Automobile Service Association). And don't forget to look at their on-line reputation. Good luck.