What maintenance is really necessary?

My brother has a 2003 Ford Focus that is just about at 90,000, and it is time to get some maintenance on the car. The dealer has a list of what maintenance to perform at 90,000 miles (here is a link to the dealer’s service recommendations http://www…nance.html ). The 90K is $400, and it recommends more service at 100K for $600. I can’t believe all of this work is necessary, and certainly not for this price.

What I think he should do is oil & filter, replace air filter, and rotate the tires. The transmission fluid (AT) was replaced at 60K, so I was thinking wait until 120K to replace that again. Also, change the timing belt next year.

So is the maintenance schedule on the dealer’s website appropriate (in terms of price and what maintenance is done)?

What about the maintenance I think should be done? Is that enough? Too much? Anything else crucial?

My brother knows nothing about cars, and frankly, I don’t know a whole lot either. However, I have a hard time believing that this car needs $400 worth of maintenance now, and $700 in another year. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Also, does someone know where I can find the maintenance schedule for this car? My brother has the owner’s manual, but he can’t figure out the maintenance schedule, and he lives a few hundred miles from me. I’d like to see what the manual recommends rather than a generic recommendation on the dealer website.

Can’t you have your brother scan the maintenance schedule and send it to you as an attachment to an e-mail?

ANY maintenance schedule by a dealer who must make the a high % on parts and service to survive is suspect. Such a car regardless of it’s make should have that many system flushes other than a coolant system, as a way of flushing your wallet ? Look for the schedule on line somewhere and use that as a guildline. http://www.focusplanet.com/

First, I would do all of these at 90K and not worry about coming back 10K miles later, unless your driving mileages are relatively low.

Items I would do:
?Automatic Transmission/Transaxle service, every 30K miles; includes replacing filter if so equipped
Brake Fluid Flush Service $89.95
Wheel Alignment and computer spin balance $99.95
Replace Cabin Air Filter (if equipped) DIY and save $$
?Change engine oil and replace oil filter
?Check and top off all fluid levels DIY
?Rotate Tires
?Visual Brake Inspection
*includes brake pads, shoes, rotors, drums, brake lines, hoses and parking brake system
?Replace PCV Valve
?Gold Coolant System Service
?Replace Spark Plugs

Many of the items don’t apply to the Focus; more apply to truck and SUV maintenance.
No reason why a good independent mechanic couldn’t do the above items. No need to use the dealer.

Thanks for the replies. I would have my brother scan the manual, but he had trouble even finding which page to find the maintenance schedule on (he’s actually a smart guy, but I guess he has some selective mental deficiencies when it is remotely related to cars- even owner’s manuals).

Just a few quick questions- what are the consequences of not changing brake and transmission fluid? I’ve always changed both on my car as directed by the maintenance schedule, but I’ve wondered what happens if you don’t change either.

I’m just frustrated by this dealer my brother found. Some of the stuff they recommend is ridiculous. What the heck is the $110 “engine oil flush service” and how is it different from an oil & filter change??? Same with the “fuel induction service” at $100???

I’ve always thought the point of doing routine maintenance is to save money in the long term by preventing things from breaking. It seems to defeat the purpose when you spend thousands of dollars to prolong the life of a car that you’ll probably get rid of at 150K anyway. Maybe if you’re the type who runs it into the ground it might be worth it, but I’m still skeptical.

There’s a happy medium between the owners manual and some of the overinflated maintenance procedures.
On on the one hand, many owners manuals do not recommend performing certain things as often as it should be done.
On the other hand, some things are not necessary. Case in point would be the engine flush and the windshield service; the latter of which sounds like an application of RainX to me.

The timing belt is overdue. It’s age critical and since the belt and car was likely manufactured in '02 this makes it near 8 years old. Six is about the limit unless you like gambling.

Trans fluid should be done every 30k miles and this means a pan drop too; not just flushing.
It’s very easy to hit 400 in maintenance costs and it’s also quite possible the car could legitimately need even more than that.
Without knowing the full history of the car who knows.

At 100,000 miles your platinum plugs, if you have them, will be changed along with your plug wires if you have them. The anti-freeze will be changed. This isn’t for your vehicle although your schedule might be simiar. Visit a parts store and look in section 6 of a Haynes manual. There should be one that has no plastic around it.

The idea of regular maintenance isn’t a ripoff but the dealer prices are kind of high.

I happen to run my cars for a long time, so I do all the required maintenance. I became a believer in 30K trans fluid exchanges after letting one vehicle go longer unintentionally. In this case, there is no recommended change interval for the ATF, and I missed that little item until 65K miles, and the fluid certainly needed changing before then.

If this car has had no brake work done, or no brake fluid exchange since 2003, it is prudent to change out the brake fluid because brake fluid can attract moisture.

If you keep up your oil changes, and engine oil flush service is not needed.

Most likely fuel induction service may not be needed unless the vehicle is exhibiting some kind of engine performance issues. Some people choose to be a bit more proactive on this service, but I don’t.

The belt is 7 years old, which means it should be changed sooner rather than later. Is $600(depending on the shop that does it) worth saving if the engine gets damaged and needs replaced to the tune of $2000+?