Extraneous maintenance procedures can take time out of your day and money out of your wallet. Some you just don't need (Jupiterimages).

    by: Josh Max | AOL Autos

    P.T. Barnum said “There’s a sucker born every minute,” before the dawn of mass-produced automobiles, but peddlers of bogus mileage-enhancers and proponents of unnecessary auto maintenance procedures are carrying on Barnum’s tradition. Everything from magnets to vortex generators to water injectors and useless “ectoplasm traps” are hawked in the marketplace, and unnecessary tune-up processes can further bleed consumers’ wallets. The best defense is to read your owner’s manual and bone up on your car’s needs, but in the meantime, here’s a 5-point list of dubious or unneeded engine-enhancing procedures.

    Engine Flushes ($100-$200)

    An engine flush uses a machine and chemicals to rid your engine’s innards of sludge, but it’s not a normal maintenance checkpoint unless you’ve neglected your engine. We checked in with Tom Torbjornsen, maintenance editor at AOL Autos for his perspective.

    “Change your oil according to manufacturer’s recommendations and you won’t need an engine flush,” Torbjornsen said.

    An examination into your oil-filler lid will reveal deposits and gunk.

    “Sometimes, if you’ve got an engine with high mileage and deposits, a flush will break loose sludge that can get into the engine," he said. "It’s really not necessary today if you’ve otherwise taken good care of your car.”

    Fuel-Injection Cleaning ($125-$200)

    “If your Check Engine light isn’t on and your car’s running fine,” says Popular Mechanics's Mike Allen, whose team of testers have debunked dozens of phony gadgets, “Skip this.”

    Torbjornsen agrees.

    “An upper engine carbon cleaning is a good thing to have every 35,000 miles because of varnish deposits," Torbjornsen said. "When fuel injectors get dirty and deposits build up, you get poor fuel economy. But not every year. Once a year is overkill.”

    Oil Additives ($5 AND UP)

    There are numerous oil additives on the market ranging from products designed to reduce friction and bolster fuel economy to those whose manufacturers claim their product will allow you to run your engine dry of oil without damaging bearings. Steer clear of all.

    “Oil additives are designed to fortify and bolster the engine,” Torbjornsen said. “But if you’re following normal maintenance producers, you don’t need it. In the testimonials you’ll find on websites selling this stuff, people say they can drive without oil because of some magic elixir. But a real-world tester always fails.”

    Gas Savers ($10-$400)

    Some of the pseudo-scientific gas savers on the market just plain don’t work and may actually hurt engine performance, says Torbjornsen. The E.P.A. has tested over 100, from pills you pop into your tank to “cow magnets,” and none have proven effective.

    “Some of these products claim to ‘polarize the molecules in the vortex',” he said. “It’s all garbage.”

    Long-Life Antifreeze ($4-$8 Per Quart)

    There isn’t any evidence that “long life” antifreeze is any better for your radiator than standard antifreeze, and you shouldn’t assume that because you’ve bought and used it, you can ignore maintaining your radiator, says Torbjornsen.

    “I recommend a 2-year, 24,000 mile flush regardless of what kind of antifreeze is in your radiator,” he said.

    “Especially if you live in a wintery climate.”

    And don’t mix coolants, either, says Allen.

    “That’s asking for trouble, especially if your car’s engineered for a specific type of anti-freeze."

    Quick Shopping Tools:

    Research New Cars

    Cars for Sale in Your Area

    Get Repair Estimates

    1 - 20 of 216 Comments
    Lvlstnhlofgunfre Mar 26, 2011 8:05 AM
    Shade-tree mechanics perspective : #1 Engine flush : Only if you've been using crappy motor oil. Such as Castrol,Quakerstate or Motorcraft. #2 Fuel injection cleaning: Just buy a bottle of "fuel treatment".But don't follow the bottles instructions. Add it when your down to a 1\4(quarter) tank of fuel.Same results can be acheived by adding 12.oz upto 20.oz . Of straight up kerosene because that is what is in the $6 bottle of STP fuel system treatment. #3 Oil additives : Waste of time and money.It only attempts to prolong the life of basic motor oil. #4 Gas savers : Waste of money because most of us all have legs and feet. #5 Long life antifreeze : Never heard of it till I read this article.... Been using prestone or peak 50\50.I check the coolant level.When I check my oil level. If it looks contaminated or "burnt up". I flush the radiator with a garden hose.While the engine is running.So that any debris within the engine block,radiator and water pump,are flushed out.
    Report This
    j72144 Mar 26, 2011 3:34 AM
    I believe that changing all fluids in a automobile on a regular basis will extend the life of engin and transmission ,oil is a detergent that helps keep deposits from accumulating ,trans,engin ,powersteering,rear end ,coolant ect .Withthis idea I have had verious cars and trucks with over 2000000 miles one ford ranger with 420000 same engin
    Report This
    DesertGlo Mar 25, 2011 10:30 PM
    I have a 2002 Mustang with 170,000 miles on it. I have always followed my owners manual. My son is a mechanic and told me ,when I bought the car new, if I followed the manual I could get at least 200,000 miles on it. I just had it checked and it is fine but I needed a new battery. That was the first one I've bought for it. I am getting ready for a 3000 mile trip and have no fears.
    Report This
    Dynmk Mar 21, 2011 10:45 PM
    I was a service writer and couldn't stand it. We offered general car repair and specialized in commercial fleets and diagnostics for problem cars. Because places like Autozone and Pep Boys and various local shops all will scan your car for a check engine light for free, we were constantly made out to be villains because we actually charged customers for this BEFORE we did any other work to the vehicle. How many bad oxygen sensors have I seen because someone got a free scan and replaced them only to have them go bad quickly! Nobody was able to interpret the info, if the tool had that ability only to see there was a fuel injection problem that would let the car run poorly and burn those sensors up? I was told numerous times I was a thief and eventually the news came. I couldn't take it. Articles like this, they have a tendency to scare people away. All this does is provide them with enough information to make them dangerous to themselves and their cars. SOMETIMES fuel injectors are dirty and the top end of the engine needs to be cleaned. Ask your customer where they buy gasoline and you'll get your answer. They buy the cheapest stuff out there. Sorry, but gasoline does vary by brand and grade and the least expensive in your neighborhood isn't always the best deal in the long run. Yes, changing your oil on a regular basis is a great way to avoid problems. Additives come and go and, like gasoline, vary in quality. I personally use BG MOA. I won't use anything else. I left it up to the customer if they wanted to use this or not, but some did end up with using it and liked the results. Customers should follow the SEVERE DUTY schedule with maintenance. Intown, stop and go traffic can be horror on your engine, cooling system and transmission. I live in Arizona, and with the severe heat, I change coolant every other year. I service my automatic transmission every year, and every other year, drop the pan and change the filter. I have the AC inspected and make sure that it too is full of R134a so the compressor doesn't cycle on and off. With the last three cars I have had, all of which have gone over 500k, not once have I had to get out and walk from being stranded. 2 of those cars still had the original transmission in the car! My Volvo S40, due to poor design, has had three inside of 120K. The other cars were a BMW 325ix and a Chevrolet K5 Blazer. All of these vehicles had the same treatment from me. The BMW and Volvo have had timing belts replaced as needed. When opened up, with the BG MOA, there was no visible wear, no varnish, no sludge.....NOTHING! The Blazer still had the original timing chain and nylon gear from the factory. I opened up the cover to look and put it back on. The slack in the chain was hardly noticeable. I have been told that I spend too much money on my cars, but I am convinced, you can never "Over Maintain" a car. If FAA rules applied to cars, we, as a nation, would buy one car and you would keep it for the rest of your life. The regulations are far more stringent for airplanes than for cars. They would also cost a lot more money and there would be more older ones on the road, with these older models receiving updates along the way. Check out a used Cessna, a '69 model is still worth a ton of money. I don't believe what this article is all about. I am not saying you should change out muffler bearings or buying halogen blinker fluid, but when it comes to common sense things, you can't over do it with a car.
    Report This
    NJPIFPOW1 Mar 21, 2011 12:35 PM
    please DON"T do any maintainance on your car ,just run it till it gives up,I'll tow you in!
    Report This
    Gatorjim36 Mar 16, 2011 6:05 AM
    The only "additive " you really do not need is articles like this. The comments are way more interesting, and that is the only reason to come aboard.
    Report This
    jaytorini Mar 13, 2011 12:54 AM
    i use a tractor trailer as a train station car to save gas. i have a problem parking it so i park at commuter parking on the hwy then take a taxi to the train station.its only 37 miles one way but i get to stop at starbucks. its so worth it. mmmm.
    Report This
    jaytorini Mar 13, 2011 12:41 AM
    i think the lite on my timing belt went out. do i only use moon roof at night?are fwd cars good for driving on the beach?if i change the labels on my vw to audi does that make me more cool? do hondas with big rear spoilers go faster then stock? what about if it has a latino driver? dont tint your windows... spray paint the inside,its soo easy and cheep too. do guys with dodge ram trucks really need a pick up that big to haul jet skis? i have been watching chip foose for years now, so ask me all of your car questions.have a safe ride to work i will be watching .
    Report This
    jaytorini Mar 13, 2011 12:23 AM
    if i have a german car,shoud i buy petrol by the liter? do all turbo cars have the option to jump over cars like Kitt in KNIGHT RIDER??? let me know because i havent seen that button.
    Report This
    TEDNOX Mar 12, 2011 11:21 PM
    Mlchurchman Mar 07, 2011 5:15 PM says............. If you change the trans oil and filter You WILL put a trans in your machine. The trans will get used to running on the "impurities" in the fluid. Have seen it Many times I'm sure you think you know what you said, but I have my doubts if anyone else did. Sheeeesh!
    Report This
    TEDNOX Mar 12, 2011 11:17 PM
    Kountrysu ****************** AM said.............. I have a 99 dodge w/ 56.000 miles on it. Air went out so took it to a garage to get fixed. They had to take the whole dash out to get to the part that was bad to replace it. That cost me 800 dollars. Expensive air. Dumb place to put the part & dodges fault for putting it there.. Well, that design payed off didn't it? For the garage that you took it to. Why do you think things are designed the way they are. Nothing simple. If you could do it yourself, they would lose money.
    Report This
    TEDNOX Mar 12, 2011 11:08 PM
    The only thing that benifits from changing oil every 3000 miles is the guy that's selling you the oil. 5000 miles is plenty often to change it. ******** your money, so do as you wish. But you're wasting oil if you do.
    Report This
    BEAN Mar 12, 2011 11:19 AM
    i agree .......... dc
    Report This
    Jfsknight1 Mar 09, 2011 6:18 PM
    I faithfully change my gasoline every 300 miles whether it needs it or not. The only major problem I've had in my current car is when it started leaking oil from the drivers tail light. It cost $379.00 to repair and was well worth it.
    Report This
    FourthBLB Mar 07, 2011 9:55 PM
    I have only 1 real issue with the article and that's with the oil additive. You should do some research on the BG products before you group all of them into the "snake oil" category. This product saved an $8000.00 engine for one of my customers!
    Report This
    Zeldman Mar 07, 2011 8:37 PM
    An air filter made of foam that you spray oil on is a useless filter that can cause more problems than dirt in the engine. It has been proven many times over that a foam air "filter" doesnt work as advertised.
    Report This
    Alfred Mar 07, 2011 8:27 PM
    Hey- here is something I invented. Put your new tire mounted on the rim on the spin balance machine. Take a piece of chalk & mark a line on the tire where the weight should go & make the chalk like long enough to mark the spot on the rim too. Take the tire off again & put a quarter ounce , etc. rubber tire patch inside the tire at the place where the chalk line is. Then, line up the two marks & mount the tire. Now the tire is balanced, and no lead weights are showing on your fancy chrome rim...Alfie-
    Report This
    Bluebeamerm3 Mar 07, 2011 7:58 PM
    Don't buy gas its too expensive
    Report This
    Alfred Mar 07, 2011 7:53 PM
    I never changed the oil in my Camaro. It has 200,000 miles on it & runs great. I saved enough money on oil & oil filters to buy another car. Go figure....Al-
    Report This
    Fmazoman51 Mar 07, 2011 7:45 PM
    Is it time for me to get the winter air out of my tires? how much is the summer air?
    Report This
    1 - 20 of 216 Comments
    Leave A Comment?
    Please keep your comments relevant to the 5 Auto Maintenance Procedures You Don't Need article.
    Mapquest Gas Sweepstakes

    Featured AOL Autos Editors

    Fetching latest post ...
    Fetching latest post ...
    Fetching latest post ...

    Great Auto Loan Rates

    Low Rates on New and Used Autos

    Presented By Apply In One Easy Step »

    AOL Autos Facebook Activity


    Order Carfax Report
    Powered by
    Get a free CARFAX record check for a used car
    Go >>
    Follow AOL Autos on Twitter
    AOL Autos looks at five unnecessary car maintenance procedures that many consumers fall for.


    Your Comment:
    Send Report Cancel