New hoses recommended after a "free" tune-up: scam or necessity?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Dec 01, 1992

Dear Tom and Ray:

I'm an old senior citizen driving an old 1984 Cadillac with 31,000 miles on it (all down hill). It has the original coolant and original hoses. Should I change the coolant and hoses when the old boat is running like a top? A few weeks ago a franchise dealer asked me to come in for a free lube, oil, and filter and a free check up. He said the coolant was OK, but suggested I spend $96 for new hoses. What do you think?

TOM: Well, Vern, we've always said that you can't trust anybody even remotely connected with the automotive industry. That includes us, of course. But I'm particularly suspicious of the guys who did the free lube, oil, and filter.

RAY: After all, the lube, oil, and filter are all free. And think about it...if you're losing $20 on every oil change, it's tough to make it up in volume.

TOM: So they have to make money on the "check up." And the only way to do that is to find something wrong during the check up that you'll have to pay for.

RAY: Now, having said all those horrible things about these guys, my guess is that they're absolutely right. This old heap probably does need new hoses. But if you want to be sure, Vern, take it to another shop for a second opinion.

TOM: And if it turns out you do need hoses, go back to the first guy and let him do it. First of all, you'll know he's basically been honest with you. And second, if he's running an honest shop AND giving away all those free oil changes, he's definitely going to need the business.

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