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I am a novice, and I need advice on maintaining my car

Hello pro’s! First, let me say I have absolutely no knowledge when it comes to car repair and maintenance. So I am hoping you guys will guide me in the right path, and of course, while saving me money, seeing that I live on a very tight budget. I bought a 2012 Toyota Camry SE ( 4 cylinder) 3 years ago at 35K mileage. I have only taken the car to the dealership where I bought it, and fortunately for me, I’ve only replaced the battery and performed regular synthetic oil change, and transmission fluid, over the 3 years. The battery and transmission fluid service was recently done on Oct, 9th, 07 - a total of $426. My drive an average of 7K mileage per year.

My question is: after taking my car in recently for another oil change, which they do every 4K miles, I was told I needed brake fluid service, install MOA OIL fortifier, 44K power enhancer, lubricate chassis, and the bill would be $596.

This comes as a shock to me, seeing that I just spent 426 dollars in Oct, and I will need to get new brakes and rotors soon as well, which they quoted me 924 dollars for.

Is this normal?

P.S: I have ran around town checking out independent shops and their quotes are only 100 to 200 dollars less, but that is because I prefer to continue using OEM parts on my car.

Quite possibly in your glove box there will something called the owners manual and also a maintenance schedule . And no you do not need original parts because most vehicle parts are made for the brand not by the brand.

Skip : oil fortifier - power enhancer - lubricate chassis ( have no idea what that means since you have unibody ) .

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The battery and transmission service have nothing to do with the brake fluid, and so it is not surprising that you would have to pay more to get the brake fluid exchanged.

Whether or not you actually need to do it, we can’t say with what you’ve told us; it should be done every 2 to 3 years, and we don’t know when it was last done.

Now, beyond the basic brake fluid exchange, let’s look at the rest of what they suggested:


Absolute and total BS

BS that has tumbled off the cliff and fallen straight into lying through their teeth. There aren’t any grease fittings on your car, you don’t lube the chassis.

So, based on all of that, whether you need the brake fluid service done or not, you certainly shouldn’t get it done by these scam artists.


The brake fluid service is recommended.

Lubricating the chassis is bogus.

The vehicle came from the factory with chassis components without zerk fittings. So you can’t lubricate the chassis.

The MOA oil fortifier and the 44K power enhancer are rip offs.

Find a honest independent shop to have the maintenance/service performed on your vehicle.

There’s no reason to bring it to the dealer since the vehicle is out of warranty.



Buy a small bottle of Dot 3 brake fluid. Use a turkey baster to suck as much fluid as you can out of the brake fluid reservoir (be SURE you know where this is). Refil with new brake fluid. Start saving for a brake flush if you really want one.

Did the dealer just hire a new service advisor? They go from honest to this between visits?

The brake fluid should be flushed out every two years, that is probably in your owners manual under the service schedule.

The oil used has all the additives you need. An MOA oil fortifier will usually change the viscosity of the oil so it no longer meets the engines requirements or manufacturers specifications.

The 44k power enhancer is a fuel cleaning additive you add to your gas. It would be very hard to find gas today that doesn’t have enough cleaners in it to keep your fuel system clean. Any Top Tier gas will more than clean your system for you.

This car uses sealed for life chassis parts, they cannot be lubricated. Any attempt to do so could damage them.

If this is a new service advisor, ask to see the service manager and report him. I’m sure they would like to know if this is going on.

BTW, read that owners manual. If you come across anything in it you don’t understand, post back here and we will try to help.

Edit: one more thing, since you are using synthetic oil, you can do your oil changes annually or every 7500 miles, which ever occurs first. That will save you a little money. The engine will still last at least 200k. It’s all in the owners manual.

2nd edit: Your car should be due for its first coolant change. That should be done every 5 years. Since you have not gone past the 5 year mark significantly, all you need is a drain and fill. You do not need a flush or any other cooling system service, just drain and fill.

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You do realize that if the OP has the cooling system serviced, be it at the dealer or at an independent shop, it’s going to be flushed?

That’s the normal procedure in automotive service today.


No need to pay for that, you can do that job yourself. A couple drops of 3 in 1 oil or even WD 40 on all the hinges is all that needs to be done for the most part. Make sure you lube all four doors, trunk, and hood hinges. It is important to lube the hinges, especially the door hinges, as they’ll get grit in them, the metal parts will wear, and the hinges will get loose. I do that job on my vehicles every time I change the oil and filter. If you want to start a diy routine btw, changing your own oil and filter is a great place to start. Takes very little equipment , and is probably the single best thing you can do for you car. While the oil drains, it also gives you a good opportunity like I say to lube the hinges, check all the fluid levels, & to do an inspection of the underside, looking for torn cv boots, leaks, etc. and a chance to vacuum the HVAC air ventilation inlet area under the windshield so leaves and twigs don’t get sucked in and ruin your blower motor.

If you don’t want to do your own maintenance, nothing wrong with that. It’s a big messy job, and can be a little dangerous. If you want to farm all that out, suggest to find a good local independent mechanic rather than using a dealership. Ask friends, co-workers etc who they use, from that list choose one that specializes on Asian cars, and that passes your interview test for good communication skills.

Beyond all that, follow the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule to a T. B/c you drive such few miles per year you should follow the severe schedule rather than the normal schedule. I know that doesn’t make sense, but the mechanical parts of cars suffer more wear and tear if driven less frequently and in slower stop and go city traffic.

Your own driving style makes a difference too. You’ll get less wear and tear on your car if you drive conservatively, avoiding sharp/fast cornering, rapid braking, and fast accelerations.

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It will be difficult to find a place that will just drain and fill, but it is still all it needs. It hasn’t suffered neglect, yet.

Just to be clear, you are not against my advice to get his cooling system serviced, correct? Just the method.


Fluid service is essential.

Just like a cooling system is no longer drained and filled, but instead flushed, the same applies with transmission fluid service. It’s flushed.

That’s how these systems are serviced today.

So if you tell people that all that’s needed is a drain and refill when taking the vehicle to a shop, that’s misinformation.

Because shops don’t do that anymore.


Thats why I do my own.

You can easily find the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule on the internet, if it isn’t in your glovebox as Volvo suggested.

In addition I suggest you find a reputable independently owned and operated local shop and start using them. Ask your friends, coworkers, family, neighbors, and acquaintances who they use and how they like them. Usually one or two will surface as having done well for others, and that’s a pretty good way to find a reputable shop… although there are no guarantees no matter what you do.

You’ve made a good choice of vehicles. Take good care of it and it’ll serve you well for hundreds of thousands of miles. From what you’ve written, the dealer is ripping you off with unnecessary work, and that usually ends with your bank account drained and not a single extra mile on your vehicle. I recommend you avoid this dealership. They’re not doing you any good.

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Since the car is out of warranty, I’d look around using friends and family referrals for the most trustworthy local shop I could find. I own a Toyota as well, and when I switched from the dealer to a local shop I was almost shocked by the lower costs. 30% lower is my estimate. If you want some advice that comes from reading and responding to horror stories about oil changes gone wrong, here is something you might find helpful. I only offer if because you say you have “absolutely no knowledge about…” Good car pick.

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I own a 2012 Camry and there is no recommendation in the owners manual for brake fluid changes. I just bled my brakes to change the fluid for the first time at 5 1/2 years when I did the rear brakes.

This car uses Toyota Ultra long life pink coolant and the first change is called for at 10 years or 150,000 miles.

He is not hurting the car with 4000 mile oil changes, it requires full synthetic but the severe service schedule is 5000 and the regular is 10,000. Like the OP I drive about 7000 miles a year now so I change mine every August.

His dealer is a grade A rip-off artist.

Thank you for the suggestion. I have learned a lot from you guys

Thanks for the suggestions.

I am a virgin when it comes to car repair. And I keep hearing from people how independent shops mess their car up. So this scares me a lot. However, I would love to find a honest and reliable independent shop someday, hopefully soon. Thanks for your suggestion.

I am glad to hear this that i wont need to do the coolant for now.

Really, just who are these people?

If this were your personal car, would you wait 10 years to service the coolant?