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Fuel Induction Service? Power Steering and Brake Fluid Flush? Some funky brake noise

I recently had an oil change at a new shop. While I was there, they said I needed to get a power steering and brake fluid flush and recommended a fuel induction service. I have a 2003 Honda Accord with about 107,000 miles on it. The car runs fine, I have no problems. Occasionally, when I hit the brakes, there is a high pitched squeak.

I’ve been doing research and getting mixed results on if these services are necessary. Car Talk community, what do you think? What could be the cause of the brake noise?

It is fashionable for many auto repair shops to recommend these services to everyone who walks in the door. It is the automotive equivalent of “You want fries with that?” Just tell 'em “no thanks.”

The high-pitched brake squeak is likely from the brake pad wear indicators telling you that soon you will need new brake pads on your four wheels, routine brake service. It is not urgent, giving you time to scan the newspapers for coupons or discounts.

Brakes can make lots of different kinds of noises. Squeals that happen when you apply the brakes are usually just the normal result of vibrations that happen anytime you apply the brakes. Most of the time there are various anti-vibration measures that keep the noises at bay. Cleaning, re-lubing and sometimes replacement of various anti-vibration hardwares can kill the squeals. A squeal that happens until you apply the brakes usually means you’re down to the warning tabs on the brake pads and need the brakes replaced.

  • Fuel induction services and power steering flushes, unless there is some problem, are just money makers for shops. You can do your own power steering fluid with a turkey baster - suck all of the fluid you can from the reservoir and refill with fresh. Do that a few weekends in a row and you now have fresh ps fluid.

  • If your brake fluid hasn’t been changed within the last few year, then you should have that done.

“The high-pitched brake squeak is likely from the brake pad wear indicators telling you that soon you will need new brake pads on your four wheels…”

In my experience, the brake pad wear sensors make noise when driving without pressing the brake pedal, and the noise tends to go away when the brake pedal is pressed. What the OP describes appears to be the reverse of my experience, so…
In any event, the brakes need to be examined by a competent mechanic in order to determine exactly what is going on.

As to a brake fluid flush, unless this service has been done in the past 3 years, then–yes, it is due for this service. IIRC, the Honda maintenance schedule does call for this service every 3 yrs/30k miles. Has the OP bothered to take a look at the mfr’s maintenance schedule that should be sitting in the glove box?

As to flushing the power steering, that is something that is a judgment call, IMHO. I do it on the same schedule as brake fluid flushes, but I tend to keep my cars for a long time. If the OP is planning on getting rid of this 9 year old car soon, then he might want to skip the PS flush. However, if he expects to drive it for several more years, I think that it is a good idea to get new fluid, with new additives, into the PS system.

~ edited out.

Did the new shop ask you anything about the service history of the car? How long it has been since any of these services were done? If not, they’re a ‘flush pusher’, a shop out for revenue instead of service. If they did ask, then I’ll be a little easier on them. But of all the things listed (and based on your statement the car is running fine), the only one I would do would be a brake fluid replacement, if it’s been more than 3 years or so since the last one. I thought Honda recommended those, are you following their schedule?

Power steering flush - unnecessary, however if you decide you’d like to flush it you can do so with a turkey baster from the dollar store. PS fluid constantly circulates as the engine runs, being directed to one side of the rack or the other only when the wheel is turned. If you empty the reservoir with a turkey baster and refill it (do this once or twice) you’ll be basically flushing the system.

Brake fluid flush - that’s a good idea once every 3-5 years, but you can have that done the next time you need pads.

Induction system cleaning - if you needed it you’d be havng operating problems. They’re after your money.

The squeal - get your brakes checked. If they’re fine, don;t worry about an occasional squeal. If they’re low, you can get the flush doen at the same time you get the brakes done.

As Steve said, this list has become commmon for many shops. They recommend these to everyone as revenue generators.

These are typical “upsell” services pushed at consumers by quickie oil change providers, and some dealers too. Your 2003 Accord has ABS brakes, so you should have your brake fluid changed every 3 years regardless of miles. You need to check your service receipts from visits to Honda dealers or whereever you go for service to see if the brake fluid has been changed and when it was changed last. If it has never been changed then this service is needed. This service will not do anything about your brakes squeeking. Brake fluid is hydroscopic, meaning it attracts and retains water. If you don’t change the fluid over time it can get water in it and water is corrosive and can harm brake parts such as the calipers.

Power steering fluid lasts a long time. But your '03 car has had that fluid in it a long time unless it has been changed previously. You can buy power steering fluid from Honda. Use a turkey baster and with the car off, take out as much fluid as you can with the baster. Then fill with new fluid. In a month or so do this again, and in another month or so yet again. After 3 drain and refills you will have removed a lot of the old fluid in favor of new fluid. Not perfect, but cheap and it gets fresh fluid and additives in the power steering system.

The fuel induction service is only needed if the car is not running smoothly and properly, especially at idle. Some cars get a carbon build up in the parts leading into intake manifold. This carbon can built up to the point it is a problem. Until it does, you don’t need this service. It is fixing a problem you might not have.

“If you can fix the problem I’m having, I might consider having that stuff done the week after.” Try that one on them.

I would suggest that a brake fluid and power steering fluid change at this time would not be a bad idea.

Over time water tends to collect in the braking system and that can cause safety problems.

The power steering fluid also is a good idea if it has not been done in the last 107,000 miles. I wold also suggest replacing the transmission fluid if it is original. Far too many people wait until there is a problem before changing them and end up doing repairs rather than maintenance.

I would not worry about the fuel system.  

Good Luck