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Brake Fluid and Coolant


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Hi, I'm new and don't have much car knowledge. I have a 2016 ES 350 and recently took it to a new place for an oil change. It's the first time it's been out of warranty for service, before this I was taking it to the dealer for it. I did buy it used.

They told me I should change the brake fluid and the coolant and I told them I'd let them know. They also told me that about the tires. They also brought out a cabin and engine filter and told me they needed replacing and would give me a quote.

My tires were checked at a couple of other places and in order to start a claim, I needed to bring it to the dealer to give me a report. I only have 30,000 miles on the car. I'm close for them needing to be changed and will probably wait until Fall so I can submit the claim for them wearing too soon.

I came home and called Lexus because I don't remember them ever having told me they changed the filters and they said they haven't needed to be changed.

A friend told me about O'Reilly's and they were the only auto parts store that had a few different ones so I went there and bought the best ones and replaced them myself after watching a couple of YouTube videos.

They told me they did change the brake fluid when I had it in at 24,000 miles so they got it done before the warranty wouldn't cover it anymore.

They told me the coolant gets done at 100,000 miles.

I'm a 72-year old widow. I talked to a friend of ours who's into cars as my husband was and he said he changes his coolant at 3-4 year intervals regardless of mileage.

The business that did the oil change asked for a review and I told them I didn't have trust in them because of things that transpired and he wrote me back saying he was trying to gain my trust. He said he didn't have prior knowledge of what had been done on my car, (they didn't ask either), and said he believes the coolant should be changed more often and his mechanic said the brake fluid was dirty.

When my car was done after the oil change, they told me to go on my phone to read the written report instead of just talking to me. Then it said 75% of things were good and listed these things to be done including a couple of scratches. I read it and asked him, what scratches and he took me outside to show me. It was a joke, I couldn't see anything and told him I was planning on taking it to have it detailed so it would look like new.

I take very good care of my car, have an unlimited car wash and keep towels in the trunk to dry it well after every wash.

How do I knowwho to believe? Did Lexus really change the oil? Is it really dirty? How do I know when to have it changed? How do you feel about the coolant?

I don't want to skimp on anything, I want to take good care of the car. I love it and hope it's the last car I ever have. I go out a lot, but still don't put a lot of miles on the car so it should with the mileage cars get now.

Thanks for taking the time to read all of this. I appreciate all of the info you can give me in trying to find a mechanic I can trust for the car.

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Good questions. 

I'll start with the brake fluid. If you brake a lot,  say a lot of city driving with lots of stopping there can be condensation from all of the heating and cooling. But…you'd feel it in a soft pedal. As in pedal effort suddenly feels squishy. I change mine when the pads get changed. If your brakes feel ok under foot you don't need to change the fluid. 

Coolant is in a sealed system so unless there is a leak it should last a good long time. Again, a lot of short trips may "age" the coolant faster than 100,000 miles but certainly not at 30,000. Some change theirs every few years, even though they really don't need to. 

Good on you for changing those filters. Well done! 

I drive a fleet vehicle for work so they require it go to those big chain oil change places and frankly I'd rather not. They charge too much and frequently try to sell me stuff I don't need. Stuff like filters that are high profit and easy to swap out. 

My advice would be to ask around and find out where your neighbors, friends etc take their car and go that route. You'll be helping a local owned business while getting trustworthy service. 

Best regards. 

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The first thing I do when I buy a vehicle is to review the owner's maintenance schedule which may be separate from the owner's manual. There are often two schedules, one for standard and severe duty driving. As Mie mentioned, frequent short trips and stop & go driving tend to require severe duty schedules. Since I make sure to combine trips or add a 10 mile highway drive to one short trip, I use the standard maintenance schedule.

I change my oil at 5000 miles which can take over one year, since I am semi-retired. Brake fluid is typically replaced when brake pads are replaced but that is not needed for many years. 

The engine and air filters are checked every 10,000 miles. OEM Lexus, Wix, and Purolator make great filters. The shop to which you took your car should look up your maintenance requirements before they make suggestions. This is why it is important that you know as much as you can, ahead of time. Even dealerships will sometimes recommend service that is not listed in the owner's manuals. It's like taking a dog to a veterinarian. I look at their $500 list of recommended items and select only those that are relevant. Feel free to do that with auto repair shops. They often prey on the customer's lack of knowledge.

Side note: I have an Aunt who is 97. Often our conversations involve automotive service because yes, she still drives and is as "sharp as a whip". 🙂

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