• Oct 22, 2010
Extraneous maintenance procedures can take time out of ... Extraneous maintenance procedures can take time out of your day and money out of your wallet. Some you just don't need (Jupiterimages).

P.T. Barnum said "There's a sucker born every minute," before the dawn of mass-produced automobiles, but peddlers of bogus mileage-enhancers and proponents of unnecessary auto maintenance procedures are carrying on Barnum's tradition. Everything from magnets to vortex generators to water injectors and useless "ectoplasm traps" are hawked in the marketplace, and unnecessary tune-up processes can further bleed consumers' wallets. The best defense is to read your owner's manual and bone up on your car's needs, but in the meantime, here's a 5-point list of dubious or unneeded engine-enhancing procedures.

Engine Flushes ($100-$200)

An engine flush uses a machine and chemicals to rid your engine's innards of sludge, but it's not a normal maintenance checkpoint unless you've neglected your engine. We checked in with Tom Torbjornsen, maintenance editor at AOL Autos for his perspective.

"Change your oil according to manufacturer's recommendations and you won't need an engine flush," Torbjornsen said.

An examination into your oil-filler lid will reveal deposits and gunk.

"Sometimes, if you've got an engine with high mileage and deposits, a flush will break loose sludge that can get into the engine," he said. "It's really not necessary today if you've otherwise taken good care of your car."

Fuel-Injection Cleaning ($125-$200)

"If your Check Engine light isn't on and your car's running fine," says Popular Mechanics's Mike Allen, whose team of testers have debunked dozens of phony gadgets, "Skip this."

Torbjornsen agrees.

"An upper engine carbon cleaning is a good thing to have every 35,000 miles because of varnish deposits," Torbjornsen said. "When fuel injectors get dirty and deposits build up, you get poor fuel economy. But not every year. Once a year is overkill."

Oil Additives ($5 AND UP)

There are numerous oil additives on the market ranging from products designed to reduce friction and bolster fuel economy to those whose manufacturers claim their product will allow you to run your engine dry of oil without damaging bearings. Steer clear of all.

"Oil additives are designed to fortify and bolster the engine," Torbjornsen said. "But if you're following normal maintenance producers, you don't need it. In the testimonials you'll find on websites selling this stuff, people say they can drive without oil because of some magic elixir. But a real-world tester always fails."

Gas Savers ($10-$400)

Some of the pseudo-scientific gas savers on the market just plain don't work and may actually hurt engine performance, says Torbjornsen. The E.P.A. has tested over 100, from pills you pop into your tank to "cow magnets," and none have proven effective.

"Some of these products claim to 'polarize the molecules in the vortex'," he said. "It's all garbage."

Long-Life Antifreeze ($4-$8 Per Quart)

There isn't any evidence that "long life" antifreeze is any better for your radiator than standard antifreeze, and you shouldn't assume that because you've bought and used it, you can ignore maintaining your radiator, says Torbjornsen.

"I recommend a 2-year, 24,000 mile flush regardless of what kind of antifreeze is in your radiator," he said.

"Especially if you live in a wintery climate."

And don't mix coolants, either, says Allen.

"That's asking for trouble, especially if your car's engineered for a specific type of anti-freeze."


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  • 381 Comments
      • 5 Days Ago
      every thing that was said up top is very true change oil when it time filter has need u can tell if its need nobody knows your car like and how it runs
      poncee22
      • 5 Days Ago
      yup people are dumb. If they buy in for that stuff then I guess they have no reason to complain. Most people do not even know how to change a flat tire let alone check the oil on a car engine. I even have had people ask me to add windshield washer solution because they didn't know how to do it. Yet these same people can get a drivers license and vote.
      TM
      • 5 Days Ago
      poncee22 Oct 22, 2010 8:15 PM yup people are dumb. If they buy in for that stuff then I guess they have no reason to complain. Most people do not even know how to change a flat tire let alone check the oil on a car engine. I even have had people ask me to add windshield washer solution because they didn't know how to do it. Yet these same people can get a drivers license and vote. *********** To make it even worse, these same people are allowed to make babies!
      brianvwzj
      • 5 Days Ago
      Brake fluid NEEDS TO BE CHANGED too. It gets dirty just like oil. We're talking about your ability to STOP here. i have a 25 year old VW with 400,000+ on it. Still has the original Master cylinder and Disc Calipers. Most European car companies recommend EVERY 2 YEARS to change the brake fluid. If you drive stick and have a hydraulic clutch, do that fluid also!. Make sure they use the correct fluid too. Dot 3 or Dot 4.
      • 5 Days Ago
      The coolant that GM says lasts for 150,000 miles isn't good for even 30,000 miles. As a mechanic I've seen the damage this orange crap has caused. It corroads everything it comes in contact with. it gets thick and stops up every fluid passage in the engine. So tell me this GM 5 years or 150,000 miles,give me a break GM! If you follow thease words by the person who came up with this coolant you'll need an engine every 5 years, don't sweet the 150k cause the engine won't make it that long. Have fun people with your cars, and do what the service section of your owners manual says when it says to do it. Any car will last a lifetime if you take care of it no matter the make or manufacturer.
      vlady1000
      • 5 Days Ago
      My wife has a Saturn Astra. It has an Oil Monitoring Program built in. The program records and then feeds the info into the program, how you drive (short/long trips), oil temps (and length of time at temps), age of the oil, etc and then tells when to change it. When I got the car, with 30 miles on *********** it was time to change the oil, the reason was the oil was old (car was on the lot over a year). When we drive it on truips it says we can go a lot further than when driven short trips. Kind of an interesting feature, but does not have an adjustment for synthethic oil. I still change it before it says it needs it, but it does give me a better feel of how it has been driven.
      • 5 Days Ago
      Let's say it truly depends on where you live!! NYC is a place containing roads filled with potholes and some of them unvisible when raining. People in NYC pay hundreds of dollars a year in car repairs from damaged streets and roadways. WAKE UP MAYOR!!!
      DAVE
      • 5 Days Ago
      Having been in the car repair business for longer than I care to mention, I agree with all but one of your recommendations above. Motor oil additive. About 3 years ago, ZDDP (Zinc) amounts in oil were drastically reduced by the Feds on the premise that it could plug a catalytic converter. ZDDP is what gives oil its ability to "cling". Amounts over 6% will plug a converter, most oils were about "02%", yes that is point 02 percent. Typical knee jerk reaction from the EPA. I recommend an additive to replace the ZDDP at every major service, and to our customers who "track" their cars, I recommend a pure racing oil. The constant high rpm of a track day increases cam wear dramatically. We have had 8 "lost engines" as a result of tracking their car with today's oils. I do occasionally recommend a "motor flush", but only when the oil cap has obvious signs of sludge.
      • 5 Days Ago
      "What does your owner's manual say?" is freqeuntly cited by automotive writers, but what does it mean? How strictly must one adhere to the mileage/TIME parameters to insure one has taken care of their car sufficiently to not need these other services? It's a little tough to "sort of" watch your car's mileage and change the oil frequently enough, which seems to be THE critical component in keeping one's car "well," but what do you do when an automotive dealer's service shop, which one would think echoes the owner's manual, has maintenance interval posters up on their wall for two or three lists of processes with ranges from every 3,000 to 5,000 miles to every 6,000 to 12,000 miles and so on, that do not agree with the manual. What about the time intervals which includes these kind of fuel injector, oil sludge, and cooling system chemical clean-out procedures. Many, including, I believe, Car Talk's internet site, have these BGH brand advertisements which seem not to be mentioned in owner's manuals at all. I'm guessing that one go to the trouble of using manual or computer spreadsheets to scheduele out and record their automotive maintenance and perhaps put reminders on their electronic calendars (on most cell phones I've had) to help remind them to look at those spreadsheets in taking care of their vehicle(s).
        marcanagnos
        • 5 Days Ago
        Then do it early, 3000 miles and 6000 miles. It won't hurt the engine to do more maintenence, just to do it late. And only do it the way the manufacturer wants it done, that means now impact guns on your lug nuts. Or flushing the tranny with a machine that pumps fluid through the lines. You drain the pan, usually you have to drop it. Change the filter in the tranny if they recommend it. If it has an external one, change that every 20,000 miles or less. MARC
      • 5 Days Ago
      I drive a Hyundai. I love it. I bought it in 2009. It is a very reliable car. I haven't had any problems with it and have not been told of any recalls for any problems on it. I bought it new and I do have the regular maintenance done to it., but I don't believe in all those addatives and junk they sell to boost your cars engine etc. If you use a medium or high grade gasoline it burns cleaner, last longer and you get better gas mileage than when you use the economy grade of gas. I don't always burn the better grade of gasoline, but I make sure that at least every 3rd fill up is with a better grade of gas to keep the engine running smoother and get better gas mileage because of it. I never have problems with my car being sluggish or having hesitation. Works for me.
        • 5 Days Ago
        Better keep a eye out for the airbag light those cars have problems and your air bag may or may not deploy in a accident..
      BOB
      • 5 Days Ago
      $8.00 a QT. for long life antifreeze?? That's $32.00 per gal. You would have to be a real SUCKER. Prestone the leading antifreeze is about $6.00/$8.00 per GAL. for 5 year 100,000 mile long life.
      • 5 Days Ago
      ihave a 1989 scottsdale 4x4 pickup it has 154000 miles on it no proBlems iwill always buy american autos
        tony
        • 5 Days Ago
        Good job. Always good to hear from a non traitor.
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