Several times a week people call with the question, "How much do you charge flush . . . ?" The first question is always, why do you feel you need this service? The answer always sounds the same. I don’t know, I took my vehicle in for warranty work and they told me I needed it.
What is a wallet flush?
A wallet flush is, any of several services, designed to produce a hefty profit for the shop and no real benefit for the client. They normally market these services as though they are maintenance. Often, they suggest the service because of vehicle milage. This is not so and though vehicle manufacturers disapprove, many dealerships, mass merchandisers and even some independent shops, push this snake oil.
If it doesn’t help, why do they sell flushes?
They mandate dealerships, by their agreements with manufacturers, to perform warranty service and recalls. The manufacturers also pay them much less for warranty work than they normally charge. Most technicians in dealerships work on a flat-rate pay system. By selling high-profit flushes, they can make up for the money they lose, doing warranty work.
Wallet flushes are extremely profitable
Shops use a variety of machines to flush fluids through various components on the vehicle. Popular examples include transmission flushes, fuel injector flushes, power steering flushes and even engine flushes. Because folks are unfamiliar with many of these services, they charge much higher rates. For example, an induction cleaning may take fifteen minutes and cost $250.00 or more.
An overcharge for an unneeded service is bad enough, but some of these wallet flushes may damage the vehicle. For instance adding chemicals to a transmission can damage internal components. The flush may also stir up debris in the pan and further restrict the transmission filter. Some shops may also use a generic transmission fluid for flushing, rather than the specific fluid required by the manufacturer.
These flushes are quick and high profit for the shop, yet I believe the benefits are questionable at best. When you hear the word flush, just add the prefix wallet. A quick tip off is any service advertised on a banner or a menu pricing board. Legitimate shops check vehicles and recommend service base on need. They do NOT have a menu of specials to sell.
Other up-sell opportunities
Newer vehicles require less service than those of the past. The repair they do need, often requires diagnostic ability above the skills of many shops. This results in low sales and empty bays. To create sales opportunities, may shops use the ‘loss-leader oil change.’ Everyone likes saving money. They offer the oil change below their cost and use flushes to make profit.
What to do instead
Many dealerships offer oil changes below their costs. A wise shopper will take advantage of the low-priced oil change, just do not buy ANYTHING else from them. This is a way to beat them at their own game. If they are willing to lose money, let them. Take the oil change, say thanks and NO THANKS to ‘The list.’
When the dealership provides a list of services they recommend, take the car to a trusted independent shop and have them verify if you need anything. Paying an honest shop for a fair evaluation is money very well invested. The best shops pay technicians a salary to avoid overselling.
A short list of common Wallet Flushes:
1. Injector Flush: Fuel injectors are self cleaning. With no symptoms, such as rough idle, it is very doubtful a flush of the injectors will help anything but the shop's bottom-line. Using a name-brand of gasoline will do far more good for the vehicle. Engines do not need fuel system additives and they can cause problems.
2. Transmission flushes: Running clean fluid through a dirty transmission filter, is like driving on a clean road and hoping to unstop a clogged air filter. When a transmission filter becomes restricted, damage occurs in the transmission. Flushing may only stir up the debris in the pan and further restrict the filter. A flush CANNOT clean the filter. A proper transmission service includes filter replacement on transmissions with replaceable filters.
3. An engine flush: Again it sounds okay, but provides no value. Most engines will never require flushing. They cannot help engines with a sludge buildup with a simple flush. More frequent oil changes, with a quality oil filter can do more good at much less cost and risk.
When approached about a wallet flush, just say no and call AGCO.