Dear Car Talk:
I have a 2011 Toyota Corolla with 45,000 miles. The service adviser at my car dealership has recommended replacement of transmission fluid ($160), coolant ($145), brake fluid ($110) and power steering fluid ($110).
Are all of these necessary -- all at the same time? I'd appreciate your expert advice. Thank you. -- Evelyn
Well, they're all necessary at the same time if the service adviser has a major boat payment due.
Actually, you're in a little bit of a quandary, Evelyn. Based on your mileage, at 45,000, you don't need any of these things. You obviously don't drive the car a lot. Normally, a 2011 Corolla would be expected to come in with 100,000 miles on it, not 45,000. Your service adviser is basing these recommendations on time (years) rather than miles.
That's a weaker argument. Unlike rubber parts (tires, hoses, belts) that degrade over time due to exposure to ozone in the air, fluids tend to wear out due to use and heat. The less you drive, the less use they get and the less heat they're exposed to.
So, I'd say these are all optional at this point, Evelyn. It wouldn't be bad to get these services done if you plan to keep the car for another five years. But that would put you firmly in the "meticulously maintained, driven only to church on Sundays by a little old lady" club.
In other words, you'd be taking very good care of your car and doing maintenance preventively.
There's no urgency, and you certainly don't have to do them all now. If you decide you want to be proactive, you can do one of these services now, and spread the rest out over your next three oil changes -- which should be about every six months.
In terms of priority, I'd probably start with the coolant flush, then do the transmission fluid, then the brake fluid and the power steering fluid last, if at all.
But there's absolutely no rush, Evelyn. And if you're short on funds, you're in no danger if you put this stuff off.