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Auto Doctor: Clean fluids are secret to car's long life

Like all cars, the 2010 Honda Accord gets

Like all cars, the 2010 Honda Accord gets a boost in longevity when its fluids are changed frequently. Credit: Honda

Dear Doctor: I brought my 2010 Honda Accord to the dealer for inspection, knowing the front brakes needed replacement. I asked for a transmission fluid change, too. The dealer recommended the following: a power steering fluid change because it's getting dirty, throttle body service to remove carbon from the valves, and add a new filter to the transmission. Do you think these recommendations are worth doing? I change the oil every 5,000 to 6,000 with synthetic and want the car to go to 250,000 miles. -- Andy

Dear Andy: There's no question these services help in vehicle longevity. Fluid changes, in some cases, are worthwhile when the fluids are dirty and change color, such as the power steering and transmission fluid. Brake fluid is another area of concern. Every time we replace brake pads at my shop we'll suck out the fluid in the master cylinder and replace it. Seldom do we actually bleed out the entire system, unless the fluid is dirty and changed color. Engine coolant needs to be changed every four to five years.

Dear Doctor: During inspection for my 2004 Volkswagen Golf, I was told to replace the driver's side mirror because it was cracked and would not pass. The cost of the replacement part and painting was $300. A few days after driving the car, I noticed the mirror was loose and shaking. A few days later it broke. I took it back to the mechanic and he explained the shell covering had to be removed in order to paint the part and in so doing a clip was probably loosened. There were two painters, as he was not satisfied with the first paint job and sent it to another person. The mechanic didn't offer to replace it for me, and said the third party would not do anything either. They used two sided tape in place of the clip. It's not staying in place and I'm sure it will come completely loose again. Do I have any recourse?  -- Sue

Dear Sue: The shop you hired to replace the mirror is responsible for the correct repair. If the shop sent the car and/or mirror out for paint or replacement and that third party broke it, then the initial shop is responsible. Go back to the shop you hired and have them replace or repair the broken mirror. If they refuse, then contact the attorney general's office and consumer protection office. If you paid with a credit card, put the payment in dispute. I would also talk to the organization that runs your state inspection and let them know about your problem.

Dear Doctor: I always thought if you replace two car tires they should go on the front. When I went to purchase two tires recently for a front-wheel-drive SUV, the salesman stated that the new ones go on the rear. So I bought four tires and that solved the problem. What do you think? -- Jack

Dear Jack: At my shop, your two new tires would go on the front. If the SUV is all-wheel-drive, then the four tires should be replaced at the same time to insure that all tires have the same outside diameter. On AWD vehicles, the outside diameter must be the same or severe damage will occur.

Dear Doctor: I have a 2007 BMW 328xi with a rip in the leatherette seat. How do I go about getting this repaired? Also, how do I change the BMW's windshield wipers? -- Ken

Dear Ken: Leather seat rips can sometimes be repaired by gluing in a small piece of leather available at the local upholstery shop, or it may have to be professionally stitched in. Wiper blade replacement on some imports need to be replaced with factory blades. In most cases a simple push or squeeze of the plastic tab will do it. Buy the new blades and then you can see exactly what needs to be done. It never pays to buy cheap off-brand wiper blades for any vehicle.

Dear Doctor: I recently purchased a used 2009 Toyota Tacoma with 48,000 miles. I read the CARFAX prior to buying, but now to my surprise I just learned CARFAX doesn't include whether the vehicle was in a flood or submerged in salt water, etc. How can I find this information? -- Vic

Dear Vic: Unfortunately, you would have to follow the history of the vehicle. The only thing reporting companies, such as CARFAX, can do is report on anything that has been reported to insurance companies for claims. I have seen many vehicles with a clean report that I would never buy or sell. You should always take a vehicle into a shop and have it looked at before you buy. -- Junior Damato, Motor Matters

Junior Damato is an ASE-certified Master Technician. Email questions to Mail questions to: Auto Doctor, 3 Court Circle, Lakeville, MA 02347.

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