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unnecessary repairs

January 11, 2012 - Larry DeHays

As I was watching a television commercial the other day which was telling me how likely a drug was to maim or kill me, if it didn't cause me to commit suicide, but it didn't matter because it was a prescription drug that my doctor wouldn't prescribe for me unless I asked him to, which really boggles my mind, it occurred to me that we were being bombarded with advertisements for things we don't need, which raises the cost of producing the stuff and therefore the selling price. So we have inflation without consumption. I never did understand economics. I started wondering if we in the car care business were guilty of this practice, and I think, in some cases we are.

For instance, you may have been urged to get your front end aligned (the car's, not your's) every year. If the tires are wearing evenly the alignment is probably fine. It really doesn't change much from wear and tear, only from impacts with curbs and such. It may need to be checked whenever certain front end parts are replaced, but not just because it's been twelve months.

You might have heard about cleaning the fuel injectors. This is usually an expensive flushing agent run through the fuel system. It was a common remedy when fuel injection became the norm rather than carburetors, back in the eighties, because the gasoline in use was not clean enough for injectors. That's not the case now. All brands of gas have cleaners added to keep injectors clean, and an added benefit is very low carbon build-up in the engine. We seldom see clogged injectors any more.

Brake fluid or power steering fluid flushing when no parts are needed, transmission fluid flushing without changing the filter, and modern engine coolant flushing before the 100,000 mile expected lifetime, all have a very limited benefit to cost ratio. Obviously they do no harm to the vehicle, only to your wallet. Have it done if it makes you feel better.

Using nitrogen in tires instead of air. Air is 79% nitrogen anyway. The elimination of the oxygen part of air might slow down the oxidation on the inside of tires, but they oxidize on the outside fastest anyway. This fad is slowly going away.

Many times when a car is not idling right, someone says "it's just not getting the gas" and goes for a new gas filter. Again no harm done, but let's review what a gas filter does. If it's restricted with contaminaton, it will limit the amount of gas getting to the engine. At idle speed, the engine needs very little gas, at highway speeds it requires lots of gas. So if the filter passes enough gas to go fast, it certainly must be passing enough to handle the idle speed. Let a qualified tech diagnose it, and leave the gas passing to anesthesiologists. Or certain other people.


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