Monday Maintenance: Fluid Flushes

Welcome to today’s #MaintenanceMonday series - your sure-fire guide to keeping your vehicle in top operating condition!

This week we’d like to draw your attention to fluid flushes - what are they exactly, why are they recommended, and are they actually necessary to extend the life of your vehicle?

Your vehicle is composed of many different parts and a multitude of fluids, along with chemical additives, that are pumped through the different vehicle parts to lubricate the components and to protect them from wear and tear which naturally break down and decompose over time.

A fluid flush is often the first step and one of the easiest and least expensive ways to extend the life of your vehicle.


What is a fluid flush?
First and foremost a fluid flush is not the same as a fluid change/drain and refill.

Changing a fluid simply means draining the old fluid and refilling with new, fresh fluid. The most common example of this would be your standard oil change.

A fluid flush, however, adds an extra step by thoroughly cleaning the system the fluid moves through before adding new fluid.

Fluid flushes are tricky maintenance items to recommend because they are really dependent on each individual vehicle, driver, and the conditions the vehicle regularly operates in. Dirt, paint chips, and other pollutants can contaminate your vehicle’s fluids which could lead to worse problems down the line.

Generally speaking, a technician or service advisor should only recommend a fluid flush if it is absolutely needed. Most flushes are recommended based on mileage driven (check your vehicle’s owner’s manual to view the recommended mileage for each service), amount of time the fluid sits in this vehicle, or if there are any visual differences such as discoloration or contaminates. This is why it is so important to build a close relationship with your chosen auto repair facility. At Lancer Service, we recommend you schedule not just your oil service and major repairs with us, but all regular maintenance. We’ll pair you with a team of service advisors and technicians that will work hard to understand how to make your vehicle work for you.

Types of Fluid Flushes, Recommended Maintenance and Warning Signs

Power Steering
Power steering fluid breaks down from heat, friction, pressure and component failures. Your first step is to check your owner’s manual to determine if your vehicle’s manufacturer recommends flushing the power steering fluid. If not, check the power steering fluid level and color; it looks reddish or light brown. If discoloration occurs (either black or silvery), it’s time to call Lancer!

Coolant
Coolant is a 50/50 mix of water and anti-freeze and circulates throughout the cooling system and engine to help maintain optimum engine operating temperature.

Anti-freeze, and the added rust and corrosion inhibitors and lubricating properties that protect your engine, deteriorate over time. That causes engine overheating and poor heater output.

Discoloration
If your coolant is murky or has sludge in it, or if there is rust buildup in the radiator, under the radiator cap or the coolant reservoir tank, a flush could help.

Brake Fluid
Brake fluid is hygroscopic, which means it absorbs moisture from the air even in a tightly sealed system. Moisture contaminates the fluid, causing brake components to rust, deteriorate and eventually fail.

Warning Signs
Does it take longer for your vehicle to stop when you begin pressing your brakes? Contaminated fluid causes the brake pedal to travel further, greatly increasing stopping distances. The fluid should be a clear yellowish to light brown. If the fluid is dark, has black gritty “floaters,” or the master cylinder reservoir cap gasket is mushy, it’s time for a fluid flush.

Differential Fluid
A differential basically transfers the power from the transmission to the rear wheels allowing the wheels to turn at different speeds when cornering. It is one of the most important parts (and most expensive repairs) of a vehicle’s powertrain.

The gears inside the differential are surrounded by fluids that help keep them protected while the vehicle is in operation. As a car is driven the differential fluid heats up and over time, breaks down to a point where a car will have metal to metal contact that stops the gears from being able to turn the wheels.

Based on manufacturer’s recommendations, cars may need a regular differential service anywhere from 20,000 to 50,000 miles. This will, of course, depend on the type of car and your style of driving.

Transmission Fluid
Transmission fluid should be a light red/pinkish color. Dirty fluid loses its ability to properly lubricate internal parts and cannot disburse heat and will appear dark red/brown. That allows sludge and varnish buildup, resulting in slipping or harsh shifting and possible part failures.

Oil Service
As we have mentioned in previous posts, your car needs an oil change at a minimum of every 5,000 miles (if using full-synthetic oil). At Lancer Service, in addition to your regular oil change, we perform a 42-point inspection and work with you to develop a Car-Care Plan for you and your vehicle.

Key Takeaways
Regardless of what you may hear or read, a fluid flush will never fix a broken seal, will never fix a malfunctioning sensor, will never repair a slipping transmission, and will never restore vitality to worn components; fluid flushes will however help prevent general wear making sure the major components continue to function appropriately.

Follow your maintenance schedule.
The maintenance items and schedule recommended by your vehicle's manufacturer is usually the best place to start when deciding what maintenance services your vehicle needs. Other factors are the age of the vehicle, as well as the climate and driving conditions.

Build your relationship with Lancer!
As a Lancer Service customer, each time your vehicle visits our shop, you will be provided with a digital inspection (including pictures and videos of your vehicle's needs), a clear summary of estimates for current and ongoing repair recommendations, AND a team of service advisors and technicians that you can rely on and trust. Together, we can build a Car-Care Plan to help you reach the maximum lifespan of your vehicle. 
Call 651.224.0267 or click here to schedule an appointment today!