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Beware of Engine Flush Scams

Countless numbers of people have been asked by a technician during an oil change if they want an engine flush. If the technician is pushy or insists that this is a service that is recommend and overdue, many people will go ahead and have the service done, even if they do not really understand what it is or why the mechanic thinks it is necessary.

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Many shops will prey on people who do not seem to know very much about the inner workings of a vehicle, ensuring them that this service with make their car function properly, while the reality is that the opposite is actually true.

What does an engine flush do?

Essentially, an engine flush consists of using solvents to eat away at the sludge that builds up on your engine over time. It sounds like something your engine would need, especially if your car is more than a few years old. Throughout normal operation, your vehicle’s engine collects sludge from oil. Cars that are not properly maintained or in which low-quality oil is used are more likely to have a sludge problem.

In order to remove that sludge, a mechanic might recommend a flush to get rid of it. It sounds like a great deal, right? For a few extra dollars, you get an engine that is “cleaned out”, and therefore should run, like new. However, that is rarely the case. While the solvents used to break down the sludge do work and they can effectively remove sludge from your engine, they actually often do far more harm than good, the biggest issue being that some of the sludge runs into other parts of your engine to clog up other components, the blocking of which causes an expensive repair down the line.

One of the most common components that is blocked during an engine flush are the oil passages themselves, depriving your engine of oil. Flushed sludge can also clog an oil filter, which, again, makes it difficult for your engine to get the oil that it needs.

All Manufacturers Warn Against It

There are no car manufacturers that recommend oil flushes as a part of regular maintenance. They do recommend using high quality oil and having your car regularly maintained, but some have even put out press releases asking their customer to never get this service, no matter how urgent a mechanic says an engine flush is. It is not one of the regular services included in any owner’s manual maintenance schedules, simply because it is not necessary.

The rate of damage to engines and other components after an engine flush is staggeringly high. And though shops like Jiffy Lube are most commonly cited as the source of the problem, just about any quick oil change shop will offer an engine flush (along with other expensive and unnecessary “upsells”). When asked about these services, the executive offices of these businesses have simply said that their technicians often claim that a service is recommended by a manufacturer, when it is simply recommended by Jiffy Lube.

This probably isn’t news to anyone who has been to one of these quick oil change places. Just about everyone has been told by a mechanic that they need to have one of these services. Many people refuse simply because it is time-consuming and tacks on at least another $20 on to an already expensive oil change, not because of the high risk of damage to the vehicle after an engine flush.

Despite the fact that most of the big car manufacturers have asked their customers to refuse this service, many shops are still offering it, and there are still a plethora of technicians pressuring customers into getting it. In general, the best thing to do when a technician tells you it’s time for a certain service is to consult your owner’s manual to see if your car really is due for that service, and, more importantly, whether or not it is even listed as a recommended service.

For the record, the only time an engine flush is necessary is when a foreign fluid is accidentally added to an engine, such as brake fluid or steering fluid. This is because a foreign fluid is usually guaranteed to damage an engine and an engine flush is the only way to completely remove a foreign fluid.
video source:
N.ESS (Jun 16, 2009) – “Jiffy Lube still scamming customers!”