Some things are known and respected entities when it comes to damaging your car. Salt air and road salt can rust the metal, road hazards can damage the paint or tires and failing to maintain the vehicle – never getting the oil changed, for example – can wear the engine. Those aren’t the only things that can land your car in the shop, or worse, the junk pile. There are some surprising things that can damage your car, including procedures or additives that are purported to help it run better. Knowing about these possible dangers can help you avoid a very expensive repair bill, and keep your vehicle in tip-top shape.
An engine flush sounds great in theory: a high-powered machine pushes a cleaning solvent through the engine, removing deposits of grime and gunk that have built up over time, helping the engine run more efficiently. The service, often pushed by independent auto shops, can actually do more harm than good, though. Removing buildup sounds great, but when particles and sediment breaks up, it doesn’t always flush completely out of the vehicle – they might end up in other parts of the engine, clogging vital parts and causing more problems. In fact, a high percentage of drivers who have opted for an engine flush service have experienced breakdowns soon after.
When a service technician recommends an engine flush, decline the service. None of the major car manufacturers recommend the service (and in fact, they caution against it) and opting for the cleaning could cause more problems down the road. Get your oil changed regularly and you won’t have any problems with sludge buildup in the engine.
Fuel Injection Cleaning
Similar to an engine flush, a fuel injection cleaning uses a chemical cleaner to remove buildup and deposits on the fuel injectors, with the idea of improving the efficiency of the injectors. However, manufacturers caution against getting the injectors cleaned this way, as using chemicals can cause damage to the injectors. This leads to a breakdown, and more expensive repairs down the road.
If you fill your tank with high quality fuel each time, a fuel injection cleaning is completely unnecessary. Most fuels contain detergents that help keep the injectors clean and running the way they should.
Machine Transmission Flushes
Changing the transmission fluid in your car is sometimes a necessary procedure to keep the car running right. What’s not necessary is a flushing using a high-tech flushing machine. Some repair shops will recommend a high-powered transmission flush, but manufacturers have stated that using one of the machines is an improper procedure and could damage the car. If you need to get a transmission service, ask how it is done, and refuse any service involving one of these machines.
Next time you pull up to the pump, check out the information on the pump. Chances are you’ll see that what you’re putting into your car is a mixture of gasoline and ethanol, a type of alcohol. Most gas contains about 10 percent ethanol, which was designed to reduce emissions and help protect the environment.
The trouble is, in the simplest terms, ethanol can lead to problems in the fuel system because it causes more moisture to infiltrate the fuel system. As a result, vehicles have had clogged fuel systems and broken gas tanks, both expensive to fix.
So what can you do? Not a whole lot, really, since it’s virtually impossible to find fuel that does not contain ethanol. Pay attention to how your car is running and if it suddenly feels sluggish, get the fuel system checked out immediately. And always remember to secure your gas cap after refueling – leaving it undone or even loose can allow moisture into the tank and cause big problems.
Today’s technologically advanced cars have many advantages, but the complex systems also open the door to potential problems. To keep your car in good working condition and available when you need it, simply follow the manufacturer’s maintenance instructions and avoid any unnecessary services.