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Fluid Flush Scams?

I have a 2009 Toyota Camry with about 40K miles. I drive a lot of highway miles and each time I go in for an oil change at the local Auto Repair,the techs always tell me I need both a Power Steering Fluid Flush and a Auto Transmission Fluid Flush. They even have a colorful little graph to show me why my fluid is darker than it should be. Now I’ve read on many sites that this is merely a scam as the Toyota Owner Manual does not list this as a scheduled service. Are these fluid flush recommendations really scams?

Recommending a fluid flush with every oil change is a scam, yes, but a very profitable one. This sounds more like a “Quickie Change” place than an auto repair facility.

You’ll find many here who believe ATF should be replaced every 30K miles, regardless of what the owner’s manual says.

PS fluid? I’d follow the owner’s manual.

I also hear same stuff as toyota manual does say any thing about these maintainence. There is no such thing life long fluids ad fluids breaks with time and metal part also break within transmission and coolant. Mechanics exaggurate interval to change them so answer is some what in between.

There are 2 things

Miles and years

I think if you are a low miler then 5-6 years on first coolant flush and after that every 2-3 years should be fine.

Not sure about high miles. May be others can give you some suggestions.

I am not a transmission expert. Most of the true experts here recommend transmission service every 30,000 miles. But, that does not necessarily mean a flush of the transmission. Perhaps drop the pan, replace the filter, and put the pan on again, and fill the fluid properly.

The experts here also say the failure of most manufacturers to properly specify transmission service is not a good thing.

Whether this is a scam depends upon how much they want to charge you and when they first told you it needed it.

Fluid exchange services are becoming very popular with all kinds of shops because they are very easy to do, difficult to screw up, and extremely profitable. These services probably do have some value in terms of extending the life of components, but the profit potential can very easily turn them into a scam. It is extremely unlikely that a two year old car needs these services. Highway driving is very easy on a car. For your situation, changing your fluids every three years will go a long way towards making your car last a good long time, more often if your maintenance schedule calls for it. Even if something is never mentioned, you should still change the fluids. Transmission fluid comes to mind as one that is often never recommended for changing, but needs to be changed.

I do think that power steering flushes are sort of a scam. Some places charge over a hundred bucks for this service, which consists of siphoning the old fluid out of the reservoir and refilling it, then repeating a few times. If you have an old turkey baster, a bottle of power steering fluid, and a few minutes on your hands, you can do your own power steering flush. Don’t run the engine when you remove the old fluid.

You need to ’ flush ’ that shop .
Unnecessary work - Automatic trans usually need a fluid change as spelled out in the maintenance schedule .

Thanks for all of the advice and recommendations. It sounds like it sort of comes down to what type of service shop a person is using- in this case I’m using what would be considered a reputable shop, part of the AAA Auto Repair group, but I’ve also seen them ding me on overpriced wiper blades, alignments that didn’t really align the car and a few other things that raise my suspicion. I guess if the level of trust was there, I wouldn’t doubt their fluid flush recommendations. I think for now I’ll just stick with the owners manual recommendations and mabye get the Trans Fluid flushed after a little more mileage.

There are manufacture recommended services and aftermarket recommended services. Are we saying that the be all and end all in regards to service is only what the manufacture says? you are putting a lot of faith in the manufacture. It is not like the aftermarket cannot present information supporting their opinion on why additional amounts of service are good for your car, they certainly can.

GM says that fuel injection system cleaning is OK, but only if you get it done from a GM Dealer, I see a bit of a conflict here.

There are plenty of automotive service experts (not speaking about mechanics) that do not work for the manufactures and they can present very strong cases for why these extra services are good for your car.I think the aftermarket is making a serious error in not addressing the perception that they are pushing services that have no value what so ever. They have some good data, they just need to present the ideas better.

I see pretty much everyone completely ignore their power steering fluid…what was put in the day the car was born is what is in there the last day of the vehicles life. I would suck out and replace the PS fluid around 50K miles…its easy and will remove any metal particulate from when the pump was breaking in… Its good for the pump and seals to get that out at some point…but if you dont you prob will never ever know about it…YOu can buy one of those Red squeeze bulbs used for battery acid to suck it out…not much in there anyway. The bulb is like 2 bucks and can be used for many other things afterward.

As far as the transmission…I dont like to do a TOTAL fluid drain at any time…I have seen and heard horror stories about this. Sometimes the trans will not work at all after this happens…I believe it is due to the torque convertor not being able to pump itself back up…but the verdict is still out on that…no matter…What I do…at about 50-60-70K is to drop 3qts of trans fluid out at every oil change for about the next 4-5 consecutive oil changes. In this way you eventually get out all the old fluid and NEVER have the tranny totally empty at any one given time avoiding any possible issues… SO at each oil change and for the next 4 or more (you have about 12qts of tranny fluid I believe)…at the engine oil change drop the drain plug of the trans…3qts or so will come out (and only 3qts or so)…fill your engine up and top off the trans…eventually you will drop those 3qts enough times to fully replace all the trans fluid in the tranny…an excellent trouble free and safe method for getting the tranny fluid swapped out. Works like a charm and your trans will thank you and reward you will a looong reliable lifespan…

Those quickie lube places have no recourse to repair your tranny if they encounter an issue while trying to toally drain your trans…if it goes bad…you are stuck trying to sue them…not fun…avoid this by using my method.

i am the technical manager at Fram, Prestone and Autolite, also a mechanic and shop owner. In the industry, we refer to those selling flushes as “wallet flushers”. Follow your owners manual service recommendations and your Toyota will last a very long time.