What's needed?

1995 Honda Accord-124,000 miles. I get a different answer at every shop I ask-what should be done on 120,000 service? And I am a little over that now. Had the car for a year and haven’t had a complete tune-up yet. Should I? Would that be enough? One place told me I have an oil leak on the ‘lower’ gasket. I never seem to need oil but I get that slight oil burning on engine smell occasionally. I had a transmission flush, but it’s dirty again. Brake fluid dirty. What is the best way to have those fluids changed? Jiffy Lube? I get the ‘boat payment due’ feeling every time I try a new mechanic and yet they all have good recommendations. Any advice on maintenance and preventative measures will be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

  1. Open the glove compartment and take out the Owner’s Manual.

  2. In that manual, read the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule which will detail all of the maintenance procedures that need to be done according to both odometer mileage and elapsed time.

  3. Note especially the information regarding replacement of the timing belt, which was in need of replacement LONG ago. If you don’t know for sure that it has been replaced recently, do it now, as your engine will sustain major damage if the belt snaps.

  4. Make a list of the procedures that you want to have done.

  5. Get recommendations from friends, relatives and co-workers regarding reliable, honest independent mechanics and have these shops give you a price quote on your list of procedures.

  6. DO NOT go to Jiffy Lube or any of its clones unless you want to risk having your engine/transmission/differential damaged by their poorly trained kiddie employees.

  7. Keep accurate records of your maintenance on a chart for easy reference. This helps you to avoid duplicating procedures too soon, as well as keeping you up to date on maintenance.

If you do not have an Owner’s Manual, get one! Besides the dealership, you can buy a manual through e-bay. The cost of the manual will be saved many times over through cost-effective proper maintenance of your car.

VDC gave good advice. Get everything that has been missed caught up to the list in the owner’s manual.

The term Tune-up does not mean much today. It had a specific meaning in the 60’s but that was 60 years ago.

It is normal for a transmission to show dirty oil after being change. It never (no matter what the flush people say) gets totally changed. If they did not charge you for a new filter, I would have a transmission oil and filter change done. Those expensive flushes don’t get the filter clean. Frankly IMO they may change more oil but they don’t do a good a job as the traditional change.

Dirty brake fluid is a serious warning! You need to have that one taken care of; something is wrong. Brakes are the most important system on the car. The fluid should be changed about every three years, even if it looks great. Have the whole system checked out.

The best preventative maintenance is to follow the instructions in the owner’s manual.

I concur with Joseph, in that dirty brake fluid is a bad sign and the system should be flushed. Having said that, I’m not a real proponent of brake fluid changes based on time or mileage. The hydraulic brake system is sealed and should remain perfectly serviceable for the life of the car unless allowed to become contaminated - usually with introduction of moisture. Brake fluid is hydroscopic, which means it has an affinity for atmospheric moisture. Thus every time you open the cap on the master cylinder reservoir, you allow atmospheric moisture to enter, which, depending on how many times you did this, will eventually permit enough moisture to accumulate and cause rust to form, which is the source of the “dirty” fluid. I believe that most newer cars have transparent reservoirs that permit you to visually see the fluid level without the need to remove the cap. Allowing moisture to remain in the system will eventually lead to brake failure due to the water being boiled-off a causing air to form in the system.

Agree that some major maintenance is in order. You have to assume that not much was done in the past. If you get a Haynes or Chilton manual, the front section will deal with the required maintenance.

Agree with other posters, if brakefluid looks like strong coffee it’s time to change it. Radiator flush, timimg belt, and transmission fluid & filter change would be the minimum I would do. These cars will live long if given proper service.