CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

BG Service and spark plug change on 1998 Mercury Sable

My mechanic recommended that I get a BG service on my 1998 Mercury Sable. The car has about 110,000 miles on it. He also recommends that I replace six spark plugs, the air filter, fuel filter and intake gasket. He wants to charge me about $700 parts and labor for all of this work. This seems exorbitant. Any thoughts on the necessity of this work and the price? Thank so much Car Talk Community.

I don’t know about your area, but the price doesn’t seem out of line to me for my area. If you need an intake manifold gasket, then get this done. It isn’t part of the routine servicing. Air filter, fuel filter and spark plugs need to be changedif this hasn’t been done for a while. I don’t know what “BG” service is.

BG makes a line of chemicals, some used for flushes, I believe. Unless your car is running rough I don’t think you need it. As for the others, what does your manual recommend? Why the intake manifold gasket?

The price for all of that sounds fair. However, if the car is apparently running well then pass on the BG treatment.

BG promotes their products through various shops/dealers and the sales pitch, along with a financial incentive, convinces many non-mechanical minded service managers that a vehicle cannot survive without a BG treatment.
Decent products, but generally not needed.

Spark plugs, filters, sure, $100-$150. Why the intake gasket?? BG combustion chamber cleaner, Formula 44K, is THE BEST product of it’s type, for dirty injectors too. It costs about $35/can. But if your injectors are not dirty, you do not need it…

Look in your owners manual for any requirement to change the intake gaskets. I think not…If it’s not broken, don’t fix it…

the intake manifold gasket replacement (and the the other work) where recommended because the car becomes very sluggish and moans when making a sharp turn, say into a parking space. Will the work suggested even take care of this problem or might the problem be that my car is leaking power steering fluid?

the intake manifold gasket replacement (and the the other work) where recommended because the car becomes very sluggish and moans when making a sharp turn, say into a parking space. Will the work suggested even take care of this problem or might the problem be that my car is leaking power steering fluid?

I don’t think you have $700 dollars worth of Love for your mechanic. It sounds like a “turkey shoot” to me.
The intake gasket may be needed because he plans to remove the intake manifold to remove the spark plugs. A good mechanic could take off an accessory to gain access to the spark plugs on a side-ways sitting V6 engine. Is it a side-ways V6 engine?
Sears, and other places, do “Fuel system and induction cleaning” for about $75. This service may be needed to clean the air intake, throttle body, idle air control air passages, and fuel injectors.
For the nonce, I’d just change the spark plug, air filter, fuel filter (if external to the fuel tank).

How do I know if my car has a side-ways sitting V6 engine?

I suggest that you get to a new mechanic right away! This one is taking you for a ride. Nothing he has suggested will address the particular problem you are having. You are correct in thinking that the problem is related to your power steering.

Ask your neighbor to look at your engine to see if it sits side-wise, and to see if it is a V6 engine.

If the mechanic is claiming that any of htis recommended work has anything to do with or will cure a groaning steering problem then find another mechanic quickly.

On the offchance the steering groan is not related to the steering pump, belt, etc. you could consider the possibility of a dry sway bar bushing. Over time the bushing rubber will harden and may groan when under a load such as a tight, low speed turn when the car squats a little. Easily cured if that’s the problem.

The engine doesn’t appear to sit side-wise. It is a V6 engine and it looks like three of the spark plugs are on top and readily accessible, but the other three are not visible.

You should ask him to clarify if he is talking about the Intake Manifold Gasket or the Intake Plenum Gasket. On some front-wheel drive cars, you can’t get to the rear plugs unless you remove the Upper Intake. The Plenum Gasket is between the Upper Intake and the Intake Manifold. The gasket isn’t very expensive so it’s kind of pointless not to just go ahead and replace it while you have the chance.