"Professional Flush"



I took my car (Saturn ION) to a local oil-change center to have the oil changed. The oil change guys initially quoted $39 to change my oil (and filter), but when they were well into the oil change job, they said the oil seemed “dirty”, and suggested I also buy a “professional Flush” of the crank case (for another $40) to get clean out all the sludge that’s built up in the engine.

Whoaaaa BIG FELLA!

I know a flush seems like the “right” thing to do, but I believe it’s really NOT such a good idea.

Can you comment on the wisdom of having my oil-system “flushed”?

The reason I have a dim opinion of doing an “engine flush” is based on the following experiences:

1) A number of years ago, I had my oil changed at one of these oil-change places and they (without asking me) accidentally flushed the engine before they changed the oil. (They didn’t charge me…).

A week later the car started smoking (like the rings had cracked) and a few months later the engine died. Coincidence?

2) When I was in college, I worked as a parts runner for a sports car repair shop, and those “professional mechanics” never flushed an engine’s oil system except when they observed symptoms of an obstructed oil channel.

3) I work in the IT business, and many of my customers ask me to “clean up” their harddrive…

My response is: CHILL OUT! The “organization” of data on a harddrive is a MESS, but that’s the way the harddrive likes it! (Harddrive “defrags” are usually pointless in speeding up your PC).

So: Flush or Not?

Regards ~

Dick Dixon

Castro Valley California


As long as you are changing your oil at regular intervals, 5k miles or whatever recommended by the manufacturer, there is no need for a flush. Yes, the oil seems dirty. That’s what happens to it and that’s why it gets regularly changed. I see it as an unnecessary service. However, there are specific vehicles that are prone to sludging and you may want to change the oil more frequently in those vehicles. Not sure if ion is one of them though.


Flushing the systems in your engine with chemicals should only be done for correcting a known and specific problem.

Of course the oil was dirty. One of it’s jobs is to carry away particulates. It was dirty for the same reason the wash water gets dirty when you wash the kitchen floor. It’s been busy cleaning the insides of your engine. These guys were trying to flush your wallet.

Man, it drives me nuts when I hear this “your oil is dirty therefore you need to flush your engine” scam.


If this local oil change center is one of the quicky oil change places that infest the landscape, you have experienced one of the reasons to avoid these places.

The other reasons to avoid them include:

Draining the transmission, rather than the crankcase, resulting in a dry trans and an overfilled crankcase. Voila–both engine and trans trashed after the owner drives a few miles at highway speed.
Putting windshield washer fluid in the radiator, or in the brake master cylinder, or in the transmission, or…
Using the wrong viscosity oil
Using cheap “white box” filters from China

Clearly, not every customer experiences a problem at these places. However, there are enough of these incidents nationwide each month that you should avoid these places like the plague. If you want to keep your car running properly, change the oil every 4k-5k miles, using the correct viscosity oil, and have it done at an independent mechanic’s shop–NOT at a quicky oil change place.


I agree. Scam. Years ago, when I had no place to put my used oil, an attractive blond woman manager at the oil change place told me that my oil was so black, she recommended some special and expensive treatment for it, I forget what it was. Maybe it was also a flush, not sure.

I was truly offended. If it had been a man, we’d have been rolling around on the floor trying to gouge each other’s eyes out, but being a woman, and me being old-fashioned, I just told her no.

I was offended at the implication I was so stupid I didn’t know oil is supposed to turn black with use, especially in the winter in the North, which is why I was having it changed.

I was changing oil long before she was born and did not want to do it any more.

Later, someone told me enough people complained that she was sacked, and it was well deserved.


The only thing that gets “flushed” is your wallet…If you change your oil when you should, cleaning your crankcase is pointless as the detergents in the oil and the oil itself keep things very clean…Your crank-case gets “flushed” every time you change your oil…