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I'm wondering if the maintenance my dealer recently suggested is necessary, and if so, if it's worth it for me (a person who has technical skill but is inexperienced with auto) to undertake on my own simply.

Vehicle Info:

  • 2007 Ford Focus
  • 64k miles (48kk of which have been put on in the past 1.5 years) -- got it with 17k on
  • All regular maintenance performed (oil changes, air filter changes, etc.) so far

Suggested Maintenance this time around:

  • Castle Power Steering Flush: Labor $75.23 + Parts $37.50 + Tax, etc. = $122.96
  • Replace Fuel Filter Labor $55.00 + Parts $20.57 + Tax, etc. = $82.64
  • Castle Lower Intake Decarbon Service: Labor $143.57 + Parts $46.97 + Tax, etc. $ = $208.58
  • Total: $414.17

Thoughts?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 5 down vote accepted

If you've never done your own work, I wouldn't recommend the first two as your first venture. You should make your own call, of course. The third sounds fishy and I wouldn't address it at all without a clearer understanding of what they're trying to sell you.

Just from looking these items over, they look like scheduled maintenance. Those types of tasks are usually not terribly complex but they do involve some time commitment to properly complete and clean up.

My recommendation is that you get to the point where you're changing your own oil (and disposing of the used oil properly) before tackling slightly more complex tasks:

Power steering flush: here's a Focus forum recommending a straightforward procedure for the flush. It's not terribly hard but you now have a quantity of dirty power steering fluid that you need to dispose of. It doesn't go in the trash or down the drain. Decide whether that's worth the hassle.

Fuel filter replacement: again, the procedure isn't terribly complex. Here's a quick and reasonably good quality video. Note that he's doing his best to reduce the pressure in the system by cranking the engine over: if you don't do that, there's a good chance that you'll cover yourself with a fine mist of gasoline. Don't do that.

Lower Intake Decarbon Service: Okay, I lost my mind before. I have heard about carbon build up but only in the context of direct injection engines (not relevant to the cars at my house). It's not clear whether the 2007 Ford Focus could have one of the direct injection Duratecs. If it does, I would talk to Focus owners first and find out whether carbon build-up is a problem for your engine. If not, carbon build-up is generally considered to be a non-problem for fuel-injection cars using quality fuel. I vote a provisional no.

In the end, even if you tell the dealer yes, yes and no on those three tasks, I've saved you about 50% of what they were asking. Maybe you should consider having Santa bring you $200 worth of tools....

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+1 on this one. I've bought an old truck to learn new skills, but it's much simpler and I have another car if I can make it in 1 day ;). And if you going to do your own maintenance/repair, that 200$ worth of tools is what you need! –  Gabriel Mongeon Dec 2 '11 at 15:00
    
@GabrielMongeon, I agree on the idea of having a training car and a get to work car. Sadly, in my house, the other car is the wife's "hands off I need this car to get to work you stupid man" vehicle. For training purpose with a single ride, I would recommend focusing on things that you'll definitely get done in a day / evening with little chance of breaking the car. –  Bob Cross Dec 2 '11 at 18:07
1  
Unfortunately in my case, the "training" car has turned into the reliable one while the daily driver keeps repeatedly breaking down. :-) –  Brian Knoblauch Dec 2 '11 at 18:16
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@BrianKnoblauch, that's both a "well done!" and an "oh, man, that stinks" at the same time. –  Bob Cross Dec 2 '11 at 19:36
    
If you have a nearby Valvoline or other shop, they'll usually take the used power steering fluid (and oils, etc.) for free. –  Alex Feinman Dec 13 '11 at 18:43

"Repairs" may be the wrong term, these are more preventative maintenance. These particular items are some that there's a lot of debate in regards to whether or not they're worthwhile. They may be on some particular models, but not others.

  • Power steering flush is not something I ever hear of people doing anymore. However, I'm not a Ford guy, could be specific to them.

  • Fuel filter replacements are still usually recommended every 60k by the manufacturers, but the repair shops I've talked to about this say that they don't find it necessary to do it that often. Claims are that the fuel supply today has far less contamination than it used to.

  • Decarbon service is extremely model dependent. Some have buildup, some don't. Depends mostly on the design and partially on driving habits.

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Good point on the model-dependent issue. It's not clear from a quick check of the wiki page whether the OP's car has direct injection and, possibly, an increased risk of carbon build-up: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Duratec_engine –  Bob Cross Dec 2 '11 at 18:15

1) Power steering flush - Most car comes with lifetime no need to change unless leak. Open the reservoir and see if it is dirty. I have not changed with my 1999 240K Miles MB C230 and I am still OK. Whoever I talked to about that, they said not required cars on later models. Same thing applies for Brake Fluid, and Transmission Fluid 2) Fuel Filter - Generally parts is very easy and replacing fuel filter process is very easy to do as previous poster provided you the link. If you find out where it is located you can definately do by yourself. Just be careful since you are dealing with fuel line.

3) Lower Intake Decarbon Service - No Idea what it is but seems like it is marketing gimmick term. I would buy a Fuel Injector cleaner and pore when you refill your gas tank. If you want to clean your air and fuel system, there is good kit from 3M - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RX5J5kZLTw4 which can do for you.

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Here's the maintenance schedule for you vehicle. I don't see any of the suggestions listed and they sound like solutions to problems you don't have. If something is wrong, fix it, but I would ask the dealer what problem you have that these suggestions are supposed to fix? If they were truly preventative, they'd be in the Ford service schedule.

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