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Unnecessary maintenance?

I took my 2010 Camry in to my Toyota dealer for 30,000 mile service, which they told me would cost about $180. After twenty minutes, the service advisor came out and told me that “due to the age and mileage of my car,” they recommended some additional service items: brake fluid flush, “because the fluid is dark,” at $110; power steering flush, $110; and fuel induction cleaning, $130. I declined and told the advisor, and later, the service manager during his follow-up phone call, that these items were not listed on Toyota’s maintenance schedule. The manager told me that the manufacturer is only interested in listing those items that might affect the warranty, but that the dealership recommended these items if I planned to keep the car more than a few years, and that without the fuel induction cleaning, my gas mileage would decline. I maintain that these are simply “revenue enhancers,” much like those offered by tire shops and oil change shops. Who’s right? Do I need to spend $350 more to keep my car in good shape?

Sounds like BS.
Find a local mechanic and avoid the dealer at all costs.

Brake fluid does have a periodic change, check owners manual. Otherwise not needed work.

Brake fluid every 30k is OK, but not the rest.

Now you know how Toyota dealerships make additional profits. Return to their shop only for recalls and warranty repairs.

Like others have said, having fresh brake fluid is a good idea every few years.

Where I depart from the others is that when I don’t want to spend the money on a brake fluid flush, I will empty and refill the master cylinder reservoir myself. I use a cheap siphon pump to get as much of the old fluid out as possible and replace it with fresh fluid. it isn’t as good as flushing the system, but it’s better than nothing.

It’s likely the $110 they want to charge you for the power steering flush would just be a simple drain and refill, like I just described with the brake fluid. You can use a siphon pump from the auto parts store or a turkey baster to get the old fluid out and then replace the fluid. A lot of people don’t recommend this method for brake fluid, but there is no reason not to use this method for your power steering fluid if it looks old and dirty.

Fuel induction cleaning is a pure rip-off. I’ve never had it done to my car, and I’ve never needed it, even after 14 years and 220,000 miles. Almost all gasoline sold these days has detergent in it, but if you want to make sure your fuel injectors are clean, you can buy a bottle of fuel injector cleaner and pour it into your gas tank every once in a while. Most people think this is a waste of money, and maybe it is, but you definitely don’t need the fuel induction service.

I can’t believe they didn’t push the transmission fluid exchange.

The brake fluid can easily be tested for moisture with a test strip that indicates the copper oxide content of the brake fluid.

The power steering fluid? When it starts to turn dark it means it’s breaking down from heat and oxidation. So you could leave it as it is and hope the seals in the power steering pump and rack & pinion assembly don’t start leaking from old/oxidized fluid.

The fuel system service isn’t required.


The problem with trying to evaluate whether suggested maintenance items are of value or not is that everyone has a different idea of value. My wife goes to the dentist every 6 months for a cleaning and exam. A total rip-off. There’s absolutely no reason to go to the dentist more than every 4-5 years. That’s how often I go and I haven’t had so much as a cavity in 25 years. So there’s clearly no value in a 6-month cleaning.

But suggest that some fluids be changed at a specific interval before they may actually need it and many of the same people who visit the dentist every 6 months suddenly think the shop is trying to pad the bill with unnecesary services.

Mechanically I agree with Tester. From a purely mechanical standpoint, at 30K replace the brake fluid, replace the transmission fluid, replace the power steering fluid if it’s dark, discolored, or smells off. Fluids are cheap. Transmissions and steering racks are expensive.

While brake fluid may be legitimate, in the context of this conversation, it is not.
I’ve driven the same fuel filters, steering fluid & brake fluid for 100k miles, as have millions of people.

Going for a dental cleaning every 6 months is NOT overkill. Even with daily brushing and flossing, crud and gunk can build up in the nooks within a few DAYS.

When servicing your car, remember that the service writer is often as much a salesman as the one on the floor selling cars. His job is to maximize profits for the company by getting customers to buy “options” in the same way you would buy options for your car when you purchase it.

The extra service is often optional. The difference being that you are buying piece of mind that is illusion.

Cleaning your teeth daily is totally different. The mouth doesn’t have a filter you can change every 2500 meals. If it did, teeth cleaning could be optional too. Just don’t breath in this direction.

While we often talk about the shops that do services that are not needed, We really need to also point out that many owners fail to get some very basic service done and that can be both a safety issue and increase the cost of driving.

I suggest that you should start by reading the owner's manual and, for those who have automatic transmissions that they should change the transmission fluid (that is change not flush) about every 40,000 if the owner's manual does not include it.)

I too think you did the right thing. As for the brake fluid, I believe you should flush it when ever you have the pads replaced. That is not always included in a brake job so be sure to add this to the list when you get your brakes done.

The only thing that I would add to the service schedule in the owners manual is a transmission fluid drain and refill every 30k miles, but this may not be possible with the new Toyota transmissions. I have heard that they require a special machine for servicing them, but I have no experience with the new ones.

I agree with declining these services for now. Cars with ABS brakes should have brake fluid changed every 3 years. Often this can be done when a brake job is needed.

The fuel induction cleaning is needed when you have a performance problem, or you notice a fall off in mpg. Likely not needed at all in this car. Maybe something to consider at 90K miles.

You can change power steering fluid by using a turkey baster to drain the old fluid out of the reservoir and refill with new fluid. To be safe I’d use Toyota brand fluid. A good idea every 5 years or so, but not needed on a 2010.

What you should consider is having the auto transmission fluid changed. Every 30K miles might be a bit of overkill, but the cost of transmission problems is so high the fluid change at 30K makes sense. I’m not talking a flush, just drop transmission pan and clean it then install a new filter and refill with Toyota brand transmission fluid. I have a couple of Toyota’s and one dealer insisted on a flush, so I bought the fluid and took it to my mechanic for the rest of the job.

I’d suggest you start looking for another shop to service your Camry. I do like to use Toyota and Honda brand fluids, but I just buy them and provide them to my independent shop when needed. Generic brake fluid is OK; but differential, transmission, power steering, coolant, etc. I stick with mfg’r branded fluids. Many transmissions are damaged by the wrong generic fluid being used often a quick lube places.

I can't believe they didn't push the transmission fluid exchange.

Yeah, like the Toyota service writer suggested I get this on my manual transmission.

So there's clearly no value in a 6-month cleaning.

Unless you’ve inherited teeth prone to decay.

Dag, I scrub my teeth, gums, and tongue at least once a day using a cleaning agent. I don’t scrub the inside of my car’s systems daily.

Re: the actual question, I too recommend occasional flushing of the brake system with fresh fluid, don;t really believe a PS system flush is necessary more than perhaps every 100,000 miles, and believe an induction system flush on an engine that’s properly running is a pure revenue generator.

As to dental cleanings, well, I’ll save my opinions on that for a dental hygiene forum.

The point I was trying to make is that ALL maintenance–whether on your car, your teeth, your roof, your furnace–is nothing more than playing the odds. You’re gambling that a little maintenance will prevent costly repairs or gambling that by deferring maintenance to a system that probably will never break will keep money in your pocket.

@UsedEconobox2UsedBMW is living proof that you can go 100,000+ miles without changing fluids or filter and have a fine running car,

I’m living proof that you can see the dentist every 5 years and have fine working teeth.

So how does one decide value for the dollar when it comes to maintenance? It’s a quite subjective thing.

True ase. I only wish car maintenance were as cheap and convenient as toothpaste. But I do both anyway. Besides, I can always get a new car. New teeth are a bit more complicated.

New teeth; a bit more complicated and nearly as expensive. Unfortunately, the biggest factor in how long you can keep your teeth has as much to do with drinking fluoridated water during the formative years as it does how well you take care of them… Like reliable transmissions…it’s sometimes the luck of the draw.