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Induction Service and Injector Cleaning

I have a 2007 Toyota Corolla with less than 20,000 miles. At a recent oil change the Toyota service department said I needed an Induction Service at $90 and a Fuel Injection cleaning at $100. I’ve always been told these were scam items for auto repair shops. They pour $3 worth of some chemical in your gas tank and charge you $190. My last car was a Nissan Sentra I bought new and put 160,000 miles on without these services. (I also know the person I sold it to drive it for 4 more years). One other point, I overheard the same pitch to another customer when I first checked in. Seems to me they are trying to make revenue in service because the economic downturn has hurt their car sales.

My questions:

Is this service a scam?

Does a car with less than 20,000 miles and running perfectly need this service?

Is there any scientific data proving this service extend the life of the car?

If you NEED an induction service it should be free. Frankly it is the dealer looking for more profit. If you want to have some fun, ask they why you need it and why it was not listed in the regular maintenance in the owner’s manual.

Most cars will easily go 400,000 without any such service.   

There are exceptions, and if the dealer insist ask them exactly why they think it needs the service.

I’m sure they actually clean the throttle body and run a good quality cleaner through the fuel injectors. But, it is overpriced and typically unnecessary. I have a 21 year old Supra that has NEVER had the injectors cleaned, and it runs good with 250,000 miles on it. I have cleaned the throttle body, though, but that was after almost 80,000 miles the first time. On this car, I have to remove the throttle body to change the platinum spark plugs, so I went ahead and cleaned it.

Is this service a scam?

It’s a scam if they’re trying to sell you a service that you don’t need.
You would be hard pressed to find any of the contributors to this forum say you need this service.

Does a car with less than 20,000 miles and running perfectly need
this service?

No. With the cleaners in today’s gasolines, I doubt you’ll need it at 200K miles either.

Is there any scientific data proving this service extend the
life of the car?

Those selling you the service will likely show you data that looks scientific. I doubt you’ll find it anywhere else.

The real answer for your questions are in your Toyota owner’s manual (not the dealer’s version). Look at the maintenance schedule and if the service isn’t listed in there, you really have to be suspect for what the dealer is pushing.

Better yet, if it isn’t for warranty service, skip the dealer all together. Your warranty holds up as long as you follow the recommended maintenance procedures in the manual as long as you keep the receipts. Find a good, local, reputable, ASE certified mechanic, and have them look after your car at each service interval. Keep the receipts, and you should be just fine.

And no - you don’t need these services - take J E Meehan’s advice and ask them why you need it and why these services aren’t listed in the manual. They’ll have an answer that sounds really cool, but tell them you’d rather just trust the recommendations of those who engineered the car. For extra fun you could add at the end: “What do you guys have a boat payment due or something?”

Thanks for the advice gentlemen!
The reason I’ve been going to the dealer is I hate the hard sell at the “quicky” shops. You know: the shocks, struts, manual transmission service when the car is only 3 months old. Many years ago I actually had a shop tell me I needed struts and did the push down on the front bumper saying “look at that”. I told him he should check his service records before trying a scam because his shop just installed the struts 6 months ago.
I’m woried that previously solid shops will resort to questionable practices as the economy sapps their profits.
Thanks again.

Aha…well I should have been more specific. Don’t use the corporate chain and quickie shops. Not only do they make their living selling a lot of unneeded things, but they often do really poor work.

What you want to find is a locally owned business. Something like “Ted’s Car Repair” - you need to ask around to people you know until you find a place that is trustworthy and honest. They do exist (although they can be a bit like needles in haystacks).

I also wouldn’t necessarily worry too much about the effects of the economy. I’m not in the auto business, so I’m partly guessing - but right now people are probably doing less maintenance, but more major repairs - b/c they’re not buying new cars.

In some cases, depending on driving habits, it’s possible to need an induction cleaning at 20k miles. If the car appears to be running fine, then you don’t need it.

This also applies to fuel injector cleaning. If it runs fine it’s not needed.
Just a tip here. If there is ever even a hint of a fuel injector problem you will notice this at idle.
An injector acting up a little will cause a rough idle to some degree, a stumble now and then at idle, and possibly a hesitation when taking off from a stop.

These aervices are sold as money makers. While it can be considered helpful it is not necessary and even doing this every 20k miles will not extend the life of the car.
Regular oil changes, coolant changes, not driving the car for ages with an overheating problem or a Check Engine Light illuminated, etc. is what determines the life of the car.
Short of someone plowing into it or the car getting eaten by rust weevils in Minnesota of course.

I hate the hard sell at the “quicky” shops

They are worse than dealers. At least dealers usually do no harm to your car (just your bank account).