36000 mile service


Took my 04 Tahoe in to my Chevy dealer whom I’ve done business w/under 2 different owners. Current owner is Bill Heard Chevrolet. Have owned Suburbans/Tahoes for over 25 years, buying a new one every 3 1/2 to 4 years(always in the 30,000 mile range). Retired last year, and took it in for the 36,000mile check up. They serviced the rear differential for $195, flushed the power

steering for $130, and brake flused for $110. Were any or all of these really needed at this mileage? We live in Phoenix Az.

Thanx for the assistance. Look forward to

your reply. (Needless to say we–my wife

Elaine and I listen to you guys every Saturday. Regards Sid Cohen (Milton High, class of 55, Northeastern Univ class of 60).


Tom and Ray don’t post here, but there are lots of regulars that actually have far more experience and more education than they do, and you get the benefit of more heads. 10 heads are better than 2.

Look at teh maintenance schedule that came with your owner’s manual. If it isn’t listed there, it isn’t required. Lots of dealerships do unnecessary work that while normally harmless is also unnecessary. If these items are not all in the owner’s manual schdeuled maintenance list, than yours did. But don’t feel badly, just consider it the cost of learning.


It’s possible those fluids needed changing, but those prices seem obscene to me. Has your trans fluid been changed? I would look for another mechanic, they’re flushing your wallet.


A brake fluid change is a very good idea, even if it isn’t listed in the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule. Was a flush necessary, or was a simple draining and refilling of the brake hydraulic system called for? I would normally recommend just changing the brake fluid on a vehicle with 36k on the odometer, but since the vehicle has been in service for 4 years, it probably was a good idea to flush and refill the brake hydraulic system, in light of the hygroscopic nature of brake fluid.

Beter safe than sorry with something as vital as the brakes, IMHO. Just as a point of reference, most Japanese car manufacturers (who tend to be obsessive-compulsive with maintenance) call for a brake fluid change at 30k.

However, I do not believe that your power steering system needed to be flushed or even to have the fluid changed. You might look at future service recommendations with a more jaundiced eye in the future.


There’s no need to mince words. The service manager had a boat payment due and he took advantage of your ignorance.

As others have pointed out, read you owner’s manual or maintenance schedule. I’ll wager it said nothing about a power steering flush. The PS fluid is normally good for the life of the vehicle. The book may or may not have mentioned those other services. Even if they were recommended, the prices you were charged were excessive.

Here is my recommendation. Get a copy of the owner’s manual. At the next regular servcing (42,000 miles?) ask for only the services in the book. And there’s no need to go to a GM dealership. Any independent shop can perform the same services, typically for much le$$.


Rearend Flush: No. I’ve ran trucks for in excess of 250,000 miles and have never changed rearend grease, just added to it as needed. Most of the time they get to leaking a little at around 150,000 miles and they become self cleaning. As long as it’s a couple squirts every oil change, it’s no big deal. If it starts becoming a quart or dropping on the driveway, you probably need to install a new gasket which means you’ll drain it and then refill it. I’ve had 1 rearend go out on the 8 trucks I’ve owned over the years that totaled in excess of 1.5 million miles between them. The one that went out, I’d gotten water in it launching my boat. If you pull boats a lot and use ramps that require you have to back the truck in the water to launch or load, I’d suggest changing the rear grease regularly, but elsewise, It shouldn’t be a problem.

Powersteering flush: Horse hocky. A power steering system is a live hydraulic system that constantly pumps fluid through it. There’s no reason to flush it. They will usually leak a little over time around the seals and sometimes the hoses will seep a little around the connection between the hard and rubber lines. You may have to add to it. Again, if it gets too bad or a hose breaks, you’ll have to fix it, but it’s not that big of a deal. Hoses from the factory or parts house are expensive to buy. I’ve had mine made over the years at a shop that can make hydraulic hoses. Ford used to have a power steering hose that came out of the pump went across the I beam to the other side of the truck and back to the steering sector. I assumed it’s purpose was to cool the fluid, but it couldn’t have had any other purpose. The ones I had made went straight down and never had a problem with that. Back then, the Ford hose was around $100. I could get them made for $20 or less.

Brake Fluid Flush: The people here seem to think I’m a nut about this, but I’ve never in 25 years of driving flushed brake fluid out. Drained it till it was clear and poured new in, but never flushed. At 30,000 miles, I hardly think it was necessary unless for some reason the fluid was contaminated. The only thing I’ve ever had that kind of problem with is a boat trailer. Somehow, water would get in the fluid. I always suspected dumping a hot brake caliper in the water caused the metal to cool fast and allow water to get past the piston into the fluid. I had to drain it and refill it every year. I’ve never had any such problem with a vehicle.

IMO, the dealership business has changed in that the money today is made in the service shop not the sales floor, and the manufacturers along with the dealerships are all about drumming up business in the shops. I believe that just as doctors are overprescribing medications because of the money trail, the same is happening with vehicles, and manuals are over prescribing maintenance items that don’t necessarily need doing. The average person these days keeps a vehicle less than 100,000 miles. The average vehicle today will easily do 200,000 with very little maintenance. Personally, I figure on putting front brakes on between 45000 and 75000 miles, tires between 60,000 and 80,000, around 120,000 I figure on a series of things beginning to happen. Alternator rebuild, water pump, belts and hoses, front and rear brakes including rotors, clutch and pressure plate and fuel pump.

I’ve always been of the opinion that if “It ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Yes, I keep my equipment oiled and greased, change oil regular, air filters, fuel filters etc, but I don’t go looking for things to do. A lot of the things they have in those manuals are just that, looking for stuff to do. I’m sure someone will tell me I’m nuts and I’m going to void a warranty and bla bla bla. I’ve never had and engine blow up, lock up or have to be replaced. I have had to have a valve job done once on an older vehicle, and have broke a timing gear, but nothing serious. Kentucky’s lemon law is the lesser of 12 months or 12,000 miles so worrying about a warranty IMO is kind of pointless being as how there’s no statute that’s going to force a manufacturer to honor a 100,000 mile warranty regardless of you flushing your power steering pump every 5000 miles.



You simply need to perform what is prescribed in your owners/maintenance manual nothing more. I seriously doubt power steering fluid is listed. Brake fluid change is typical but usually around $50-$70 not $110. The rear differential is likely a check(fluid level/condition) and was interpreted into a full service.

I am now very unhappy with my current car dealer who used to do what was prescribed in manual essentially. Now with new service manager they have jumped prices with 50% increase and do significantly more service at much more frequent intervals. They are hooking people into these over maintenance since they offer free tires for life of car if you perform all services according to their schedule. I understand the frustration now with dealers as I have never had this happen at my previous Honda one either who was quite reasonable.

My suggestion is read your manual to find what services needed and find a dealer or independent shop of your liking that does what is prescribed.


The only mandated differential fluid changes I’m familiar with is on a limited slip (Positraction) model; GM specifies a fluid change every 12,000-15,000 miles or so. I had this on a Caprice, and believe me, it has to be done. The fluid has a special additive for th friction clutches which has to be replenished.


I’ve got a 1987 Trans Am with an LS rear and I did change it at around 40,000, but that was because a place that changed the oil in it screwed up and put 90 wt in it. I got it out before I left there and didn’t have any problems with it.

I know you have to really pay attention and not let some ding dong put regular rearend grease in one.