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Oil leaks, trans fluid change, power steering fluid Honda Accord 2003

I just returned from the Honda dealership for an oil change. I have 135,000 miles on my car. Last 2 times I went in they told me that I had an oil leak. I have never ever seen oil leaking from my car? I have never had to add oil bc it was low. Today I asked him directly if the oil was leaking from the bottom of my car and he said yes. I told him I have never seen a leak citing my evidence that my car is parked in same spot in a garage. He literally had no response. He proceeded with my power steering fluid was “dark” and that the transmission fluid was “dirty”. Cost for oil leak - 78.00, power steering fluid109.91, trans fluid $164.95. I did none of it! Am I crazy to refuse to allow them to fix a “leak” that I seriously have never seen? Am I being fleeced bc I am a young woman and I generally bring my car in alone? How do I tell the difference bt dark and clean power steering fluid; dirty and clean transmission fluid? Lastly are there basic classes on auto care for women? How do I find an honest mechanic? Do Honda dealerships keep a history of work done on your car based on your Vin#? Help!

Jen, if you can take a class in “diy car repair for car owners” at your local night school, that’s the best way. Absent that, one thing you could do to serve yourself better is to give yourself a reading tutorial on car repair basics, even though you never plan to do it yourself. Makes for a better understanding w/the mechanic. There’s a book in my local Barnes and Noble bookstore titled something like “Car Repair for Women” or “Dare to Repair”, something like that. The best book on routine car care – my opinion – is titled something like “Popular Mechanics Book of Car Repair”. Covers modern fuel injected computerized cars very well.

Oil can indeed leak yet not leave much in the way of oil spots where you park. Mostly this kind of minor leak is harmless, unless it is leaking oil on something important, like is leaking from the valve cover seals or camshaft seals, in which case it can leak onto the timing belt, which is no good for the timing belt and could cause serious damage to the engine if the situation got worse. If you car has a timing belt (rather than a timing chain), maybe that is the mechanic’s concern.

The owner’s manual usually gives a maintenance schedule for the power steering and transmission fluid. Unless you are having problems, best just to stick to that schedule usually.

It certainly would cause no harm to do a transmission service and power steering service early, assuming the dealer shop does it correctly, which is likely since it is a dealership, and might save you money in the long run. I wouldn’t fret on these suggestions either way.

If your concern is the cost though, my recommendation would be to seek out a highly recommended local inde shop for routine service for this car, rather than using the dealer. You will probably save some money.

I think you should have asked him “where” it was leaking and please show you, not “if” it was leaking. Power steering fluid is always dark but with that age and mileage it wouldn’t hurt to change it, yet have never done so myself. The transmission is another matter. It should be serviced every 30,000 miles. Not a fluid flush though but a drain and refill. I suspect they wanted to do a flush. Take it to a good trans shop-not Scamco or other chains, and have them do it but insist on Honda fluid or buy the fluid at the dealer to make sure. In my view anyway.

Cost for oil leak - 78.00, power steering fluid109.91, trans fluid $164.95. - See more at:

I am an Accord owner too. 2000 vintage. These are great cars. Unless you actually have a problem with your steering, i think it is ok for you to pass on the oil leak, and steering fluid.

If you are a gambling person, go ahead and pass on the trans fluid too. If you want to be less risky, just do the trans fluid.

Get a second opinion of the first two, and that will put your mind at ease. For reference, I hit 260K miles on my Accord and never changed the transmission fluid. So some people can have success with the original fluid. (I don’t recommend this for you, just giving you my personal experience as food for thought)

Mind you, it is a passenger vehicle that i treated well, and maintained well, don’t tow with it, and my geography is relatively flat, so rarely does it go up the Rockies on a regular basis.

Often when women are treated badly or rudely, they assume it is because they are women. Well, I am going to tell you the truth. They treat men pretty much the same way. You have been told it’s because you are a woman, that is something some women activists want you to believe for their own reasons.

In June, a Toyota dealer mechanic recommended over $1000 of liquid changes on my Sienna, including transmission fluids for $250. Those liquids are all clean, and the transmission fluid is perfectly clean synthetic ATF.

The service writer definitely heard about it.

The difference was that I stay on top of those things, and I have some knowledge of what is happening. So, I knew instantly they were jerking my string and trying to rip me off. Someone advises some community college courses, and some books to read. That will help. They will try to rip you off as they did me, but you will know better.

I agree. When you start asking questions so they know that you probably know more or as much as them, their answers change to more of a collaborative exchange.

It’s a con run based on the consumer having little knowledge about car repair, and exploiting that fact.

The only way sex enters the picture is “playing the percentages” and assuming the woman is statistically less likely to be knowledgable about car repair.

I’d likely have the same thing done to me by an unscrupulous interior decorator or jeweler…

My Toyota dealer did the same; I had “an oil leak” and they wanted to change the oil pan for $452!!! I told them I have no oil whatsoever on the driveway or the garage floor. The service manager said the oil would come out at highway speed and blow away. He did not offer me shares in the Brooklyn Bridge!

This stuff is normal, and your best bet is to go to an independent garage you can trust and have it double checked. Nearly all cars older than 5 years have tiny leaks, which don`t matter. Just keep checking your oil level.

Oil leaks originating from the valve cover gasket or cylinder heads may never make it down to the garage floor. Leaks from oil pan will…unless the pan is caked with barnacles. AARGH!

I would only change the transmission fluid if it hasn’t been changed in the last 30,000 miles.


“Leaks from oil pan will…unless teh pan is cakes with barnacles.”