Dear Tom and Ray:
I have a 1997 Honda Civic that just received its 37,500-mile service. The dealer said that I also needed a transmission flush ($140), coolant flush ($120), fuel-injector cleaning ($109) and my clutch checked and bled ($80). Does my car really need all that flushing and cleaning? -- Judith
RAY: It sounds like the dealer gave you a wallet flush and bank-account cleaning, Judith.
TOM: Some of the stuff is legit. Even though your car has low mileage, it IS 6 years old. And at that age, a transmission-fluid flush and coolant flush can't hurt. So I'm OK with those two.
RAY: The fuel-injector cleaning and clutch bleeding, on the other hand, would come under the category known as ADP: Additional Dealer Profit.
TOM: A fuel-injector cleaning is something we only recommend if you are experiencing a problem with fuel delivery. It's not like having your teeth cleaned, which is preventive maintenance. It's more like a drain unclogging -- something you do only when the drain starts backing up.
RAY: And I'm not sure why he bled your clutch, either. You bleed the clutch when there's air in the system. And the only way air gets into the system is if you have a leak. So why he would bleed the clutch and not address the leak is a mystery.
TOM: You might want to go back and ask the mechanic why he bled the clutch. And if there is a leak, have him apply the $80 to the clutch repair, because we always bleed the clutch for free after we do clutch work.