Transmission oil change

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I have 40K miles on my car 2001 Elantra. The dealer is asking following things to be done; - 1) Change transmission oil =$170 2) Change A/c belt = $117
3) Change power steering fluid = $135 I assume (1) is needed, what anout 2 & 3. How to check. Are the rates OK for Atlanta/dealers. Do I need to go to dealer or go to anyother shop. Can one do these on your own. What is the best way to check break pads/transmission belt. Any tips are welcome. My cars will be 5 years on 6/14. Any checks/repalcements recommeded before I am out of warranty. Thanks in advance
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Khaj wrote:

What does your owner's manual say? The prices sound horrendously high. I can get my transmission fluid and filter changed for about $70 at my local Chrysler dealer for my minivan. I can't believe an Elantra is that much more work than a minivan.
Most vehicles don't require the PS fluid to ever be changed. My last minivan had 178,000 miles on it on the original PS fluid with no problems. I don't know how much longer it would have lasted as it was totaled at that mileage by a drunk.
I'm not familiar with the belt system on an Elantra, but unless they have to jack up the engine to replace the belt, the quoted price sounds horrendous.
Matt
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Khaj wrote:

I was told by my local Florida dealer the transmission fluid had to be changed every 30K miles in a '00 Accent in order for the transmission to be covered by the factory warranty. The price your being quoted is for a flush. A drain and fill is perfectly acceptable and should cost half that. If you take it somewhere other than the dealer make sure they only use SPIII fluid. Universal transmission fluid like your local auto parts store sells will screw it up. If you change your own motor oil, your perfectly capable of changing the transmission fluid. Expect to pay $6 for a quart of SPIII fluid at your local dealer.
The A/C belt should not need to be changed before the 60K mile timing belt change. The only exception would be if it's been loose and has suffered premature wear as a result.
The power steering fluid would only need to be changed if the car's been submerged in a pond.
If you have 40K miles on the original front brake pads, they need to be changed. The only way to check them is to jack up the car, pull the wheel and visually inspect them.
Your transmission does not have a belt.
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Puh-leeze! These service shops never cease to amaze me.
-Shop around for the tranny fluid work as surely it can be done cheaper(but as someone else pointed out, make sure the right fluid is used). In my world this is the only service you even might need;
-A/C belt? Not likely, but a flashlight will show if there are any tell-tale cracks. I agree with another poster that the best time to have that replaced is when you get the timing belt replaced, usually around 60,000 miles, and you have to take this off anyway;
-Power Steering fluid??????? I have noticed the tendency for dealers to start trying to change things that are just plain never changed in a car. The first was brake fluid. I am closer to being convinced that, in cars with ABS, it may not be a bad idea to change it every 2-3 years, but otherwise have never seen a car that needed it (unless like another poster said, the car was submerged in water).
But I have never, ever, ever heard of a need to change power steering fluid in any care. In fact,that would be my tip that this garage is probably a racket.
The only other legitimate one I can think of is coolant. Has that been at least drained and refilled, if not flushed?
My advice to you is to get your necessary parts from the Hyundai dealer as you need them(timing belts, etc.), and find someone honest to work on your car. Otherwise your next "recommended" repair may be for a broken disgronficator, an expensive part indeed.
Tom Wenndt

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I think that you've said in the past that ATF +4 has been declared an acceptable substitute for SP-III. Now that REAL ATF +4 is available at Auto-Zone for $3.69, that would be a great price.
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Most of those prices seem high, even for the inflated DC area. But I don't know what the going rates are in Atlanta.
As far as the transmission fluid, do as Matt said and check your manual. I'm pretty sure the recommendation is about 100k miles on the tranny fluid, but check your manual to be safe. I wouldn't want to send you in the wrong direction and have it cost you. But it's also important to check the transmission fluid. If it's dark brown, it's probably a good idea to flush the transmission (or drain and refill it).
If you take a flashlight and look down at the a/c belt under your hood, you'll probably be able to see some pretty significant cracking of the ribs where it goes over the tensioner pulley (because the belt is bent backward). This belt usually starts cracking at around 30k miles or 3 years, so I would expect it probably is a good idea to replace at 40k.
Your car uses Dexron ATF as power steering fluid. There is no maintenance recommendation in the owner's manual, so I wouldn't do anything to service it unless you take a sample of fluid from the reservoir and it's absulotely gross.
Your brake pads should be visually inspected for thickness. Once they reach 2/32 inch, replace them. If you know what you're looking for, you can probably see the outer pad through the wheel.
This flush business is something many shops have started doint to increase profitability. I agree they can be a valuable service under the right circumstances, but the whole thing winds up being pretty much a racket. A partnership develops between the dealer and the additive company. The additive company typically provides the machines as long as you use their product (or works out some other deal putting the shop on the hook). I'm not particularly proud that in my shop we are pressured to sell brake, power steering, coolant, transmission flushes as well as 4wd servicing and a "performance" oil change which basically runs some detergent oil through then engine prior to doing an oil change. The shop's recommendation on the flush services is 2 years/24k miles, which I find particularly gross. I don't think I've once recommended a power steering or brake flush (although there is some debate over the value of the brake flush -- I'll discuss below). I do recommend coolant flushes based on condition of coolant and maintenance interval (2 years for Hyundai) and transmission flushes based on fluid condition. The service personnel at the shop typically receive some sort of spiff to use the additive product. Look closely at what they're proposing to do in each of these flushes. I'll bet that each has an additive or some "special" fluid from a particular automotive chemical supplier. Usually, it's about $.25 to $.5 per service for the tech. I have no idea how advisors and managers are spiffed, but I do know that it happens, at least in some cases. That's right; these products are so good the company pays the shop employees to use them. Ultimately, it makes the whole thing stink and causes suspicion when such a service is actually a good idea.
Brake fluid is hydroscopic, meaning water bonds to it. So, if your brake fluid absorbs water over time, this water can in turn begin to corrode your metal hydraulic brake components (such as wheel cylinders) and accelerate their failure or leakage. I personally believe that the brake hydraulic system is largely a closed system which is rarely open to the atmosphere. As such, its absorbance of water should be minimal.
I can think of little reason to recommend a power steering flush. There are some older (pre-90s) GM products (particularly Celebrity, 6000, Ciera, and Century) which tend to have poor cold assist issues which I have seen the flushes partially alleviate.
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'I'm pretty sure the recommendation is about 100k miles on the tranny fluid, but check your manual to be safe. I wouldn't want to send you in the wrong direction and have it cost you. But it's also important to check the transmission fluid. If it's dark brown, it's probably a good idea to flush the transmission (or drain and refill it).'
REPLY: Dont wait till 100 k. miles to change your trans. fluid ; do it every 35 or 40 k. miles -- its cheap insurance. Make sure whoever does it uses a machine that does a complete flush incl. the torque converter.
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dave wrote:

This reply is an urban legend. Flushes are almost never necessary. Changing the transmission fluid and filter more often than the manual recommends is also almost never needed.
Matt
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Dont wait till 100 k. miles to change your trans. fluid ; do it every 35 or 40 k. miles -- its cheap insurance. Make sure whoever does it uses a machine that does a complete flush incl. the torque converter.
This reply is an urban legend. Flushes are almost never necessary. Changing the transmission fluid and filter more often than the manual recommends is also almost never needed. Matt
RESPONSE : This reply is the urban legend ; transmission fluid serves many important roles , including but not limited to , cooling and shifting of the transmission internals under pressure . Advertising 100,000 mile changes on transmission fluid, spark plugs, and coolant is not only unnecessarily risky considering the small negliable price of routine maintenance , but it is primarily a pitch by the Manufacturer for the potential Buyer to be awe-struck by thinking he has hardly anything to do to the car once he buys it. For the Owner who truly values taking car of his/her car, that person should NEVER listen to the sensational message that nothing needs changing for 100,000 miles . That would be simular to a person getting a BLood Test every 50 years.
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dave wrote:

It's your money, waste it at will.
Matt
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'It's your money, waste it at will. Matt'
REPLY: Its not 'a waste' ; its called good preventive maintenance. For the people who put high mileage on their cars before trading them in, its especially wise. If you get rid of your cars every 3 years, then , theres not much point.
____________________________________________ "The only thing necessary for evil to continue, is for good (tolerant) men to do nothing" -- C.S. Lewis. ____________________________________________
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Dave in Lake Villa wrote:

I put 178,000 miles on a 1996 Plymouth Grand Caravan following the manufacturer's recommended transmission fluid and filter changes. The transmission never required work and this is with the infamous Chrysler 41TE (I think I got that right going from memory) transmission that is supposed to be so fragile. The van was running great when a drunk hit me and totaled it last December.
I stand by my statement that changing the transmission fluids, or any others for that matter, more often than the manufacturer requires is simply wasting money. If it gives you peace of mind to waste money, then that is your prerogative.
Maintenance is only preventive if it is preventing something. Changing the fluids more often than recommended simply doesn't prevent anything.
Matt
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'I put 178,000 miles on a 1996 Plymouth Grand Caravan following the manufacturer's recommended transmission fluid and filter changes. The transmission never required work and this is with the infamous Chrysler 41TE (I think I got that right going from memory) transmission that is supposed to be so fragile.'
REPLY: Im willing to bet that Chrysler didnt suggest 100,000 miles on a Trans. fluid change for their 1996 MiniVan either ; maybe you can find out what it was and report. Ill bet it was more like 50,000 miles (or less) . Further, this story is simular to the guy that started smoking 2.5 packs of cigarettes per day at 18 and made it to 80 --- there will always be some that beat the odds. I owned 2 Chrysler MiniVans with that infamous transmission and none of them made it past 90,000 miles before trans. failure.
'I stand by my statement that changing the transmission fluids, or any others for that matter, more often than the manufacturer requires is simply wasting money. If it gives you peace of mind to waste money, then that is your prerogative.'
REPLY: Its 'not wasting money' when the manufacturer is pushing it to the limit on maintenance durations to make the vehicle (and them) look good.
'Maintenance is only preventive if it is preventing something.'
REPLY: I couldnt agree more.
'Changing the fluids more often than recommended simply doesn't prevent anything.'
REPLY: Only if you have complete faith in the Manufacturers MO ; common sense and being in a Mechanical Trade tells me not to.
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dave wrote:

I don't have the manuals for the vehicle any longer so I can't look it up. I was thinking it was in the 50,000 mile range also and I believe that is roughly the intervals when I had the fluid and filter changed. My point isn't the absolute number of miles, that will likely vary by vehicle and by severe vs. normal service. My point is that the manufacturer's recommendation for the type of driving you do is typically fairly conservative. There is simply no need to perform maintenance more frequently than required.

And how do you know this? Are you a transmission designer?

Common sense is very often wrong. I know a lot of folks whose common sense tells them that an automatic that shifts very smoothly will last longer than one that shifts very firmly. This generally isn't true, at least it wasn't true a few years ago. A firm shift means the clutches are slipping for a much shorter time. Smooth shifts required lots of clutch slippage and thus wear. This certainly wasn't intuitive or "common sense."
Modern cars often reduce engine power during the shift so that you can have both smooth shifts and reasonable wear, but my point remains that things which are "common sense" are very often wrong.
Transmission fluid isn't like engine oil. It doesn't see contaminants from combustion that form the nasty acids and such that make the life of engine oil fairly short. Unless you are towing or really abusing your automatic, the only thing the oil has to deal with is wear material from the transmission itself. With a good filter, this isn't a problem for many, many miles. I've never seen a transmission filter even close to being clogged even after 50,000 miles. The other issue for the fluid is heat, but again is is rarely a problem unless you are towing. And then the manufacturer's change intervals are typically a lot shorter.
So, realistically compare your driving environment to the description in the maintenance section of your owner's manual, select the appropriate maintenance schedule, follow it, and you'll be fine. No need to do things twice as frequently, unless you like wasting money and time.
Matt
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'My point isn't the absolute number of miles, that will likely vary by vehicle and by severe vs. normal service. My point is that the manufacturer's recommendation for the type of driving you do is typically fairly conservative. There is simply no need to perform maintenance more frequently than required.'
REPLY: My point is that you canNOT trust the Manufacturer's advertised maintenance claims ; which is why I change my fluids more often myself using all synthetics...except for the Trans Flush/Drain which i have a local shop perform. Ive seen the condition of fluids after the Manufacturers suggested maintenance schedule...and its rediculous pushing it to that extreme.
'Its 'not wasting money' when the manufacturer is pushing it to the limit on maintenance durations to make the vehicle (and them) look good.
And how do you know this? Are you a transmission designer?'
REPLY: I am an avid reader of Technical Articles written by Authoritys in various mechanical fields in addition to having worked in a related Mechanical Trade for over 30 years at a maintenance/teardown/rebuild level. Car Manufacturers, like Car Dealers, cannot be 100% trusted to give the correct story when it comes to maintenance...in addition to design in many cases.
'Common sense is very often wrong. '
REPLY: Common sense which comes from a mechanically oriented person , is usually right. Especially if that person has had first hand experience from a design, application, and repair standpoint.
'Transmission fluid isn't like engine oil. It doesn't see contaminants from combustion that form the nasty acids and such that make the life of engine oil fairly short. Unless you are towing or really abusing your automatic, the only thing the oil has to deal with is wear material from the transmission itself. With a good filter, this isn't a problem for many, many miles. I've never seen a transmission filter even close to being clogged even after 50,000 miles. The other issue for the fluid is heat, but again is is rarely a problem unless you are towing. And then the manufacturer's change intervals are typically a lot shorter. '
REPLY: Automotive Transmission Oil OFTEN SEES contaminants in the form of metal particulates, acidity, and condensation . And heat IS OFTEN a problem in modern auto Transmissions especially in hot climates and/or mostly city driving where the clutches are constantly shifting ; heavy cargo loads or people loads contribute to the issue. Go to www.amsoil.com for further education on this subject.
'So, realistically compare your driving environment to the description in the maintenance section of your owner's manual, select the appropriate maintenance schedule, follow it, and you'll be fine. No need to do things twice as frequently, unless you like wasting money and time.'
REPLY: And keep in mind that 100,000 mile suggested changing of fluids, spark plugs, and coolant...come from Manufacturers who very often have an ulterior motive .
____________________________________________ "The only thing necessary for evil to continue, is for good (tolerant) men to do nothing" -- C.S. Lewis. ____________________________________________
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Dave in Lake Villa wrote:

Amsoil ... that explains it all.
Matt
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'Go to www.amsoil.com for further education on this subject. '
Amsoil ... that explains it all. Matt'
REPLY: Yes, their website does explain the work that Trans. Fluid has to perform in a modern Automobile ; do a google and youll find many more technical articles on how Trans. Oil breaks down in addition to its causes. For as much money as you have spent on your Automobile(s) , you really should avail yourself to further education on this topic and not be such a tightwad when it comes to changing fluids. This will conclude our discussion.
End.
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for a mere 60$ I flush my auto transmission every year. I wait till i get my Spring saving coupons in the mail from Hyundai then I bring her in and have it done. pretty cheap insurance, 60$ flush -- 3000$ transmission.
also have the cooling system flushed at the same time.
Finn.

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Finn wrote:

P.T. Barnum was right.
Matt
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Or, was it Hannum?
http://www.historybuff.com/library/refbarnum.html
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