maintenance services?

Status
Not open for further replies.
Joined
Jan 18, 2013
Messages
41
Location
Iowa
I've worked for the past 2 years as a service tech, and I'll be honest, I'm still not certain why we sell maintenance services. Brake fluid every 1-2yrs? Coolant every 2-5 yrs? I must say, my godfather's 15 year old pickup had never had a brake flush, and I never felt unsafe. It stopped as quickly as I ever needed it to, every time. I did one anyway, but I feel silly, not knowing what I achieved. Likewise for coolant. Well... OK. My own car? A 1990 station wagon that had never had a coolant flush, its coolant was rust red, and guess what, I needed to replace the heater core and radiator both to restore proper engine cooling up slopes in summer and proper cabin heat in the winter. But it took 22 years to get to that point. Not every 2, or 5, years. We even have simple pH paper tests to make sure it's alkaline enough. I have NEVER seen a coolant system fail this test: not even the obviously rust-contaminated ones. Finally, power steering... I never know why we might change this one. It surely doesn't burn, or break down, or get as hot as trans fluid. If you don't change it, will you experience power steering pump whine at 200,000 miles instead of at 180,000 miles? Again, as someone who's supposed to know, and ideally, push these services onto customers: I'd like to know sane changing intervals, and know, really, why you change these fluids when you do! thanks! -Bernard
 
Joined
Nov 23, 2011
Messages
5,309
Location
Lima, Ohio, USA
my understanding with the brake fluid, is that the fluid is hydrophyllic ie:"water loving"(opposite of hydrophobic), and will absorb moisture from the air, that can exacerbate problems under heavy braking - the water boils out before the brake fluid, and can cause "air" pockets from the water vapor, which being vapor, and not liquid IS compressible, which can leave you with either a spongy pedal, or no brakes at all. (working from memory @ 4am here folks,may have chunks of that absolutely wrong. if i do, i apologize, & please correct me)
 
Joined
Aug 30, 2004
Messages
26,821
Location
CA
Many shops need repairs to their balance sheet. You can thank the American consumer for driving down the cost of many services, which has forced shops to sell additional maintenance services to balance things out. Brake fluid should be changed periodically due to its hygroscopic nature. Honda, Nissan (starting MY2011), Lexus (but not Toyota), and most germans call for a brake fluid flush at 2-3 year intervals. The domestics do not require this service as their fluid is supposedly "fortified" with additional moisture-inhibitors, thereby making it a lifetime fluid. The water supposedly causes sludge, rust and corrosion inside the calipers and the abs module, which in theory can lead to expensive repairs. Coolant should be changed per the OEM interval with OE coolant. With that said, I've seen a few cars with 120k+ on the original coolant and the systems still work fine, have no leaks and the coolant appears visibly clean. Not sure how well they're doing in the corrosion protection dept, though. P/S fluid probably doesn't need to be changed. No OEM requires it.
 
Joined
Apr 21, 2011
Messages
1,262
Location
Cadyville, NY
With respect to coolant, the Ph balance of the coolant plays a role in grounding the electrical system. In modern vehicle with all of their sophisticated electronics, it is important to have healthy coolant. Ford has had bulletins in the past relating to this issue. I have a coworker whose old coolant became too acidic, causing his coolant temp sensor to short out. It melted the reservoir, sensor, connector and harness. P/S fluid definitely will break down, resulting in metal particulates accumulating in the steering gear or rack and pinion. Brake fluid does attract moisture. Most brake line failure occurs from inside out corrosion. ABS hydraulic control units will fail if water corrodes their internal passages. ABS hydraulic control units cost upwards of $1000. Most OEMs don't call for specific replacement intervals on some fluids, but they do call for inspections of these fluids. That implies that if a fluid fails a visual or chemical test, it is to be replaced. If you see metal flake or an off color to P/S fluid, replace it. If brake fluid takes on a greenish or blacking color, or fails a copper test, replace it. It is never smart to wait for automotive fluids to "fail" before replacing them. The "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" approach is very wrong-headed when it comes to vehicle maintenance. Vehicles should ALWAYS be maintained with prevention in mind.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Sep 1, 2005
Messages
1,060
Location
Ila Georgia,outside Athens Georgia
I change p/steering fliud in my own vehicles around year 5 or 6 and notice a huge improvement over steering feel. You think it won't make a difference but it sure does. The old fliud comes out dark and smelly. I found hiring techs like the OP for the most part hurt my shop. They drove junk and thought junk cars were just fine. They didn't care to sell service work. Their standards were way down on the rung. Like a nice man or women with a FILTY car. Bet there are other things of theirs not clean or nice.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Apr 21, 2011
Messages
1,262
Location
Cadyville, NY
Yeah. There are some scummy dudes working on cars. Ultimately, I believe that the maintenance approach that some shops take is a result of what consumers want. A lot of customers will stop going to a garage where they are thorough enough to point out what a vehicle needs to repair or maintain it. Customers hate being told that they should spend money on their cars, so they find a garage that will just do their oil change and never say a word about anything else. Jiffy Lube is emphasizing this in their latest ad campaign. The basic idea is, "we won't look for anything that needs repair because we know that customers hate bad news."
 
Joined
Jan 4, 2003
Messages
3,203
Location
Southeastern, PA
Another benefit of maintenance is that things get looked at and stuff cycled. A good service of the cooling system should include inspection of the hoses for anything going bad (cracked or soft hoses, leaky fittings, etc). Bleeding the brakes cycles the bleeder fitting making them less likely to be frozen by corrosion. And of course, while bleeding the brakes the flexible hoses should be inspected for cracks.
 
Joined
Jan 18, 2013
Messages
151
Location
Michigan
Brake flush I'd probably do once every ten years or so with most vehicles, but coolant flushes and power steering flushes (at least drain and fill) should be done fairly regularly. Doing so can extend the working life of those parts and keep them performing as they did when first purchased. Power steering pumps aren't the most expensive to replace, that's why people often ignore it, but a simple drain and fill isn't too costly and makes the vehicle safer to drive. Coolant becoming acidic I've heard can cause a lot of damage. I think all of these services have their place but only at the right price.
 
Joined
Jul 29, 2010
Messages
695
Location
Manvel, Texas
I would much rather be the guy that took care of his ride as well as possible and didn't end up on the side of the road riding his thumb to work. I maintain my vehicle according to the owner’s manual. I do the shortest service stated.
 
Joined
Nov 17, 2012
Messages
2,280
Location
SunnySouthFlorida
Like oil, fluids are easier/cheaper to replace than the hardware they protect. Water pumps and Power Steering units are lubricated by them, (seals get old and leak without proper maintenance) Electronic ABS gets spongy after years with the same fluid (that easily goes unnoticed)
 
Joined
Dec 23, 2006
Messages
9,608
Location
Canuck - moved to —> California —> Texas —> ???
I highly doubt that a car with a 10 year old brake fluid will perform the same as a car with fresh fluid. In light, everyday application it probably is the same, but in emergency situations, under full braking pressure, the difference will be there and you do not want to find yourself with a mushy brake pedal that went to the floor. I would be very happy if a mechanic suggested those services to me. Problem is that a lot of times these services are billed for, but often times are not actually done, or are done partially. For example, many dealers charge for brake fluid flush, but all they do is siphon out the brake reservoir and refill it. Same thing with transmission flushes. A lot of times it's just one drain and fill and they charge for a full flush.
 
Joined
Jun 24, 2004
Messages
14,505
Location
Top of Virginia
As someone who never believed in regular brake fluid changes before (I owned domestics, they all said it's not required), the first time I exchanged the fluid in our Acura, I was amazed at the improvement in pedal feel and brake response. Even during normal driving, the improvement was immediate and notable. I plan to exchange the fluid in our Honda this spring. I also do the power steering fluid every 15,000 miles, along with an automatic transmission fluid drain-and-fill. I simply exchange one power steering reservoir's volume of old fluid for new fluid using a turkey baster or shampoo bottle pump or other suitable small pump. Old fluid comes out dark, new fluid goes in clean. The very small cost pays back big-time in peace of mind for me. But...I'm "in tune" with our vehicles and I do these services myself. If I were an average point-A-to-B person who wouldn't notice if a tire was flat until it fell off the wheel, I probably wouldn't see a whole lot of value in paying for these additional services, especially if my car is "in the shop" just to "fix" something. Under those conditions, most people are of the mind set to pay as little as possible and get out as fast as they can.
 
Joined
Sep 1, 2005
Messages
1,060
Location
Ila Georgia,outside Athens Georgia
As well as brake fliud change if the caliper pins and slides are cleaned and lubricated braking is improved and pedal feels better. Lots of stuck slides and pins on vehicles. sold that service with brake fliud change a lot. It was not very time consuming and cost was not much. A lot of high end imports have that in their annual maintance schedule.
 
Joined
Dec 21, 2008
Messages
5,628
Location
London, ON, Canada
I am with you for the most part. I do brake fluid generally when something is getting replaced. Coolant at scheduled intervals. If it's 100K miles, I do it at 100K miles. Power steering fluid I don't recall ever changing. I just top up if it's low. I've never had any issues with a power steering system on any car I've owned.
 
Joined
Apr 9, 2008
Messages
15,677
Location
Central NY
My Focus will be turning 2 years old in March. I'm going to do the following for spring maintenance (it will have around 31k) - Flush brake fluid - Lubricate slider pins, pull apart drum brakes and spray with silicone to prevent rust - Change PS fluid (using ford spec'd fluid) - Change manual trans fluid (using Ford spec'd fluid) My jeep gets a lot extra changes / maintenance. Reason being - as beat up as it looks, it'll get me anywhere I need it to and not leave me on the side of the road
 
Joined
Dec 23, 2006
Messages
9,608
Location
Canuck - moved to —> California —> Texas —> ???
Originally Posted By: Miller88
- ...pull apart drum brakes and spray with silicone to prevent rust...
I never found any rust inside the drum brakes, ever. Tons of brake dust on everything, but the hardware was never rusty. Maybe some light surface rust on the brake cylinder, but nothing on the moving parts. Besides, spraying everything with silicone spray or some other type of grease is just going to attract brake dust even more and can gum up the shoes. I'm all for preventive maintenance, but some things are better left alone.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Mar 21, 2004
Messages
27,342
Location
Near the beach in Delaware
Maint. services as listed in the owners manual should be done. But the owner needs to keep track. I am sure many people are pushed into getting services not needed. And I agree getting services done at a shop where its on a lift can spot things. My Jeep was in for universal joints and they noticed the steering dampener had loosened and was out of position.
 
Joined
Sep 1, 2005
Messages
1,060
Location
Ila Georgia,outside Athens Georgia
On drum brakes you either knock out the dust or I had techs that hosed them out with plain old water if heavy buildup. After either a dab of white lithium at the shoe pivot points and under the shoes where they rest. Just like when you do a brake job. Maybe move back and forth the auto adjuster and make sure there is a tad bit of drag. Auto adjusters don't always keep up with brake wear.
 
Joined
Jun 6, 2012
Messages
52
Location
New Jersey
Originally Posted By: salv
Yeah. There are some scummy dudes working on cars. Ultimately, I believe that the maintenance approach that some shops take is a result of what consumers want. A lot of customers will stop going to a garage where they are thorough enough to point out what a vehicle needs to repair or maintain it. Customers hate being told that they should spend money on their cars, so they find a garage that will just do their oil change and never say a word about anything else. Jiffy Lube is emphasizing this in their latest ad campaign. The basic idea is, "we won't look for anything that needs repair because we know that customers hate bad news."
I couldn't agree with you more... If I had a dollar for everyone I know that tells me "oh I always go to xxxxx. And they check everything for me it's all good". When I'm offering to do a service on there car (for free) like flush brake fluid ATF etc mad the general public really doesn't like bad news and would rather get smoke blown you know where because they go in thinking there gonna get ripped off I guess
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top