Brake Fluid Flush for Multiple Customers in 1 morning?


My local Ford dealer was advertising free multipoint inspections, so I took my Focus in. The fellow showed me dark brake fluid and PS fluid next to the colorful samples of fresh fluids, & told me I needed a brake fluid flush and a PS fluid flush. While I’m in the waiting room, I hear them come out and tell the same thing about their Brake Fluid to 2 other customers in the room. Doesn’t that seem like a high ratio? 3 out of the 6 or 7 customers who passed thru the room in those 2 hours?

The trade magazines are full of "advisements"to shop owners about the high percentage of cars who all are potential candidates for the same services.

Additionaly based upon testing methods there are few cars that would not show a “postive” for needing these services, based upon "how to generate business"parameters of course.

You now understand why they have these ‘free’ inspections!

It was obviously “brake fluid and PS fluid week”!

Next month there will be another special, maybe “alignment and strut replacement week”.

The term “wallet flushes” was not coined by this board, but it is used very often, since we get your type of post almost daily!

Brake fluid should be flushed periodically, Honda specifies every 3 years reguardless of how few or how many miles. I do not believe that ford lists any interval. What year is your Focus?
Is it Required, no.
Is it helpful to the life of the brake system, yes,
Will you ever see a benefit? who knows… The car might be in a junkyard before any calipers or abs units fail.

I personally flush my own brake fluid and clutch hydralic system every 2-3 years.
Brake fluid is Hydroscopic and absorbs water. Of course it costs me 7 dollars (if that) and a hour of my time.

Would I flush the PS fluid, Probably not.

Most manufacturers recommend replacing the brake fluid every 2-3 years, if you hadn’t had this done then yes you were due for it. As for the PS fluid, very few manufacturers recommend replacing it but i tend to believe it’s a good idea. Just like any other fluid, it must break down over time so i’ve made a habit of changing out the PSF in my Honda every 2 years, that way the seals will be kept in a better condition to avoid leaks in the future. Although, it’s really easy to change out your power steering fluid with a turkey baster and a bottle of fluid in your driveway.

Now you are familiar with the technique called “upselling.” It doesn’t matter if your fluids are five years old or six months old. If they hold them up next to fresh fluids, they will look old and dirty. Frankly, I wonder if they even bothered to show you your own fluids. They probably show each customer the same dirty fluid. Was the dirty fluid still in the plastic containers under the hood, or did they bring them to you in glass containers in the waiting room?

When ABS braking systems became commonplace the need to change the fluid in these “high tech” systems was not stressed. Americans weren’t used to changing brake fluid every few years like they are to oil changes and coolant changes. So, most cars in America are overdue for brake fluid flushing service. In this case the promotion maybe helpful.

What you experienced isn’t a good practice when applied to many car services. I’ve seen many a “quickie lube” place push similar services in particular air filter changes. It is easy to show a dirty filter to an unknowledgeable customer. Then they sell a $30 dollar filter which isn’t really needed yet and could be an $8 filter if purchased at Walmart and installed by the customer.

In the end it is up to the customer to know what services were done on their car, the date and mileage of these services, as well as the maintenance recommended in the owner’s manual. Without this information it is easy for a sales person to get “yes” to services that aren’t needed, are expensive, and don’t add any life or value to the customer’s vehicle.

The air filter for my 2004 F-150 was 29.00 and that was at Auto Zone (4.2)Did they see me comming?

If Autozone didn’t, Ford did.

Not very many people flush the brake fluid and it is necessary. There is nothing wrong with upselling as long as it’s honest and not a high pressure sale.

Exactly, if it weren’t for upselling, a lot of people wouldn’t maintain their cars at all. I work at a quick-lube and as much as I hate the upselling, we only recommend stuff if we can’t tell it’s been done within the previous service interval. From what i’ve seen working there, i’m convinced that if it weren’t for the upsell a lot of those customers would drive their car with nothing but oil changes for the life of the vehicle.

The odds of 3 out of 6 or 7 correlates to a 50% or roughly 40 something percent of alleged problems and fluid changes should be done about every 3 or 4 years. There are a lot of things that should be done far more often than the factory recommends; at least if you care about maintaining your car properly.

In my experience the actual figure of neglected vehicles is around 90% so I’d say the 40/50% range is perfectly acceptable.

The inspections are designed to bring in business but they also provide a useful service by informing car owners what their car needs or does not need.
There is only an issue with upselling IF you’re being sold something that is flat not needed or has just been done.

What if you had a HVAC guy come out to perform a simple cleaning on a household central heating unit and he recommended a unit replacement due to a potential CO poisoning or fire hazard danger. Would this be considered “upselling”. Yes, but a vital one.

This sort of reminds me of when I was in graduate school at a major university. The health center sent out notices to many students, including my wife, that they were to come to the health service and receive booster shots. We dug through our files and found that my wife wasn’t due for a booster shot. This information had been sent to the institution when we were admitted. At any rate, when my wife took her records over, there were hundreds of students lined up for the booster shot. The cost was minimal. The health service had too much serum on hand that was going to go beyond the expiration date if it wasn’t used. Hence, everyone needed a booster shot at least until the serum was gone.

Exactly, if it weren’t for upselling, a lot of people wouldn’t maintain their cars at all.

Well said.