Does performing preventative repairs like flushes and fluid replacement save you money in the long run?
Vehicle components are getting more sophisticated and expensive. Although it was common to replace an engine for a few thousand dollars in the past, many complete engine replacements reach $7,000-10,000 for gasoline engines and $15,000-$20,000 for diesels. Replacing engine oil regularly and periodically performing services to remove carbon have never been more important to protect your vehicle.
How do I know when to perform maintenance on my vehicle?
There are two ways to identify your maintenance needs. The first way is to simply inspect the fluid or component for signs of wear or degradation, the second is to follow the recommended maintenance schedule for your vehicle. I recommend that people use their manufacture’s maintenance schedule as a base line, and then adjust, to meet the needs of their driving conditions. For example, if you tow a trailer consistently, you will probably want to shorten the intervals for your transmission and axle fluid replacements due to the added strain on those systems. On the other hand, if you commute with your vehicle and rack-up mile quickly, you will likely want to extend your intervals on some services like power steering and brake fluid. You may be surprised to find that the maintenance vary significantly from vehicle to vehicle. If you don’t have a good maintenance plan or have questions about what you have been doing, discuss your unique driving habits with a trusted mechanic.
Are there downsides or risks to fluid services?
In general, replacing fluids will help extend your vehicles components by removing contaminants and replenishing crucial additives. However, there are two systems that I am cautious with; transmissions and engines. An automatic transmission contains dozens of clutches that wear over time. As the clutch fiber wears, it is suspended in the fluid and the fluid becomes dark. When a transmission with very dark fluid is flushed, there is a risk of clutch fiber and debris clogging solenoids and creating major problems. My personal preference is NOT to flush, but to remove the transmission pan, replace the filter, and refill the system. This process only replaces 50-70% of the fluid in the system, but it restores valuable additives and cleans the system more gradually. Engine flushing is less common than transmission flushing but it can be a very valuable service. When carbon deposits accumulate inside of an engine, they can lead to oil consumption and potentially engine failure. However, if an engine is severely neglected and accumulates excessive carbon deposits a flush may not be in order. Flushing a system like this can plug the oil pick-up tube and quickly lead to catastrophic failure.
If you have questions or concerns about your vehicle, please give us a call. We are happy to help!