Necessary Maintenance?

I have a 2004 Honda CRV with 82,000 miles on it. The oil change place suggested I replace my Automatic transmission fluid and the power steering fluid due to their colors. Are these necessary? I’m a medical student with a wife who is pregnant and we don;t have much cash, but I would like to avoid any future problems so it will keep running through residency (5-6 years). Is there any maintenance that you would suggest other than to two items above? Thank

First, if that “oil change place” is Jiffy Lube or any of its clones, DO NOT allow them to do anything to your transmission. In addition to the likelihood that they would not replace the trans fluid filter (due to lack of expertise) and the likelihood that they would force solvents through the transmission (which is expressly forbidden by Honda!), they would probably use a “universal type” transmission fluid that is NOT universal and will wind up damaging that very expensive transmission. Your transmission requires a “Honda-specific” fluid.

My suggestion is to take the vehicle to an indy trans shop for transmission servicing, as this is a very important maintenance procedure. It should be done every 3 yrs or 30k miles, whichever comes first. If you have never had this done previously, it is VERY important to do it now, but having the wrong establishment do the service may well be worse than not having the service done at all.

The PS fluid is probably okay, but once again, Honda uses a unique fluid for their PS, and a slip-shod shop may not use the special Honda PS fluid.

Do yourself a big favor and do not ever take your vehicle to a quick lube place again.
Ask friends, relatives, co-workers for recommendations on indy mechanics in your area. The price will be no higher than what is charged by “Jerky-Lube”, and may actually be cheaper.

But, most important of all, a real mechanic is much less likely to do damage to your vehicle. If you use the search function at the top of this page, and if you enter search terms like “Jiffy Lube” or “quick lube”, you will see scores of threads that discuss the engine/transmission/brake system/cooling system damage done by the poorly-trained kids at these places.

My best suggestion is to read the maintenance schedule in the owner’s manual. It should list all the services this car needs and when, usually listed as mileage or time, whichever occurs first. Maintaining the proper services at the proper intervals is the single best way to keep this car running trouble-free.

If the automatic transmission has never been serviced, you are way behind.

However, I fully agree with VDCdriver, never let those ‘Jiffy-Lube’ wrench monkeys touch your transmission. Many of the kids they tend to hire (cheap labor) don’t know very much about cars. The odds of them screwing up the job are high. Find a good independent Honda mechanic to do this.

Everyone hates on Jiffy Lube. But they are no better or worse than the people that run them. I use a local JL franchise and they do good work. They even use Honda ATF-Z when changing the auto trans fluid. Ask them what fluid they use; you might even ask to see a bottle. Don’t use anything but Honda transmission fluid. The exact fluid is in your owner’s manual. If this is the first time, get it done now (today - really). I’m not a fan of changing power steering fluid, though.

And make sure they do not flush the transmission with an external pump. It may damage your transmission. The transmission’s pump should be used. If they use an external pump, just have it drained and refilled. You will save almost half on the drain vs. the fluxh, anyway.

One more thing: make sure the transmission is good and hot when you get the fluid changed. It flows better when hot.

When is the last time the transmission fluid was changed? Do you have any records? Any indication on any paperwork in/on your CR-V? I’d want to take care of that first. If it needs changing, make absolutely sure that Honda-approved fluid is used.

As for the power steering, it’s a MUCH lower priority. I’d 1. go to the dealer, buy two quarts of Honda power steering fluid, 2. buy a turkey baster, 3. get as much fluid out as I could, 4. see if there’s a screen at the bottom of the reservoir, clean it, 5. fill up to the mark, run the engine, steer left to right several times, 6. repeat 3/4/5. You’re done.

Is this all-wheel drive or front wheel drive?? If all wheel drive you need to change out the (center?) differential fluid with fresh Honda fluid. This is different from the tranny fluid. Otherwise your all wheel drive will start to act up.

If you have never changed the auto trans fluid, then it should be done. My first choice is a Honda dealer for the trans service. Simply because a botched job means a expensive transmission gets ruined. Honda transmission fluids are best, and going to a Honda dealer means you get the proper fluid in the trans.

While you are at Honda buy some of their fluid for power steering. At home use a turkey baster to suck out all the power steering fluid you can (the car isn’t running at this point) with the baster. Then refill to the full mark with the fresh new fluid. This isn’t a complete change but it is a cheap way to have good fluid in the power steering pump.

As a med student with a pregnant wife you don’t want to have a $2500 repair bill for a new automatic transmission. Therefore the trans maintenance is important. For the future plan to change the trans fluid every 30K miles. Honda auto tranmissions aren’t very robust and proper service pays off in long life.

Your CRV at this age is coming up to need a lot more maintenance. Has the transfer case fluids and differential fluids been changed? The CRV differentials are very particular about Honda fluid too. Your brake fluid should also be changed every 3 years, which means once in 2007 and again in 2010. Are you up to date on all these items? I believe the CRV motor uses a timing belt. Check to see when your timing belt is due for replacement. 7 years or 105K miles whichever comes first is the interval for my '03 Civic. The CRV interval is likely similar. A broken timing belt means bye, bye motor in a Honda.

Better pull out the owner’s manual and go over the maintenance requirements section to see what needs to be done and when.

“buy a turkey baster”

C’mon, doesn’t the wife have one? She won’t need it until Thanksgiving!

Agree but I don’t think you’ll get a Honda trans for anywhere near $2500. More like $5000. Your manual will give you the recommended maintenance or just call the dealer and ask. Trans fluid should be changed every 30K but that means only draining the fluid and adding about 4 qts of new at $7 each. Other items are air filter, cabin filter, and you’re getting close to needing the plugs changed.

If the fluids look toasted it is a great recommendation to replace them. Bear in mind a fluid change may only mask an underlying problem.

But they are no better or worse than the people that run them.

I seldom disagree with you,  but I would say that they may have good people running them, but the business model does not allow them to take the time or cost to do the job right.  They need to be able to do the job cheaper than a proper mechanic or dealer.

Thanks guys, this has been a huge help. I didn’t realize the importance of this stuff. Take care!!

Sorry I don’t mean to be naive but what exactly is “Indy” trans shop? Thanks for the advice, I see I need to get this done.

I’m sorry if I was being obscure.
Indy=Independent (not a chain operation)