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The car dealer service dept tells me I need to replace all fluids (except oil) and both air filters because they’re all dirty. The cabin filter was replaced this summer, so it can’t be too bad. My local mechanic hasn’t mentioned the engine filter or the fluids.

How important is it to have “clean” fluids? I get about 33 mpg on my 2003 Toyota Corolla.

Marcie, Dirt In Fluids Causes Parts To Wear Sooner And Can Cause Proper Operating Problems.

Too much dirt in fluids can cause automotive illness or even automotive death of certain components (organs). I’d tell them to leave the cabin filter alone, though. I’ll bet you can change that yourself, when needed.

Very strange; usually only the oil needs changing. Consult your owner’s manual to get the proper interval; then go to a good independent mechanic. I can see an air filter replacement at this age/mileage and the cabin air filter. Offhand, I would say that power steering and brake fluids do not need replacing unless the car has over 100,000 miles or so on it. Usually at this age with normal miles, I would have the transmission fluid and filter chnaged at a good transmission shop.

Again, consult your owner’s amnual. It is the best source.

Doc, Marcie Doesn’t Say, But This Car Could Be Six Years-Old, Built In Or Near 2002!

Just driving 15,000/year could put it up to 90,000 miles. I agree with your good advice about consulting the Owner’s Manual.

The authority about when to change fluids is the manufacturer not the dealer It sounds like ADP week (Additional Dealer Profit). Having said that if you are behind getting fluids changed based on the manufacturer’s recommendations, you are risking damage to the car and maybe yourself (Brakes use fluid and if not replaced when it should be can cause brake failure!)

   Dealers are no better (or worse) than independent mechanics for almost anything you might need done on your car.  They will almost always charge more per hour and often more for parts and supplies.  They also tend to look at repairs a little different than the independent. 

A dealer may well recommend work that strictly may not be needed, but could be connected to the problem or maybe replace a part when a little repair would fix it ALMOST as good a new.  

There is no need to bring your car to the dealer for any service other than service that is going to be paid for by a recall or original warrantee.  During the warranty period be sure to have all required (as listed in the owner's manual) maintenance done and to document all maintenance work.

I suggest that most people would be better off finding a good independent (Not working for a chain) mechanic. 

Note: Never ever use a quick oil change place. They are fast cheap and very very bad.