What Does it Mean to Flush Fluids in a Car? | YourMechanic Advice

What Does it Mean to Flush Fluids in a Car?

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When a mechanic suggests you flush car fluids, such as transmission fluid, motor oil, or brake fluid, it basically means to replace the old fluid with new. In some cases, however, to fully flush fluids requires the middle step of rinsing, or cleansing the entire system by running water or a specialized cleaner through the system to remove any grit or grime that may have accumulated over time. That way, there are no contaminants in the system when fresh fluid is put in.

Since vehicles have several mechanical systems that require fluids for lubrication or cooling purposes, there are several types of fluid flushes. Here are the ways you can flush car fluids and how often they should be done for maintenance purposes:

  • Brake Fluid Flush: Although rarely necessary, you may need a brake fluid flush if moisture has made its way into your brake system and has become rust-colored or if it has been overheated. In many cases, however, a vehicle will never require a brake flush.

  • Engine Oil Flush: With motor oil, regular changes at intervals recommended in your vehicle’s owner’s manual are part of proper maintenance. Running a cleanser through the engine system, however, may cause more problems than it can fix because the sludgy contaminants such a flush dislodges can obstruct the oil pump pickup screen.

  • Fuel System Flush: Although many quick-lube stations recommend you flush fluids in your fuel system every 5,000 to 10,000 miles for optimal gas mileage, this service is really only necessary about every 35,000 miles. Since this procedure requires specialized tools, enlist the services of a well-stocked and experienced mechanic instead of a quick-fix shop.

  • Power Steering Fluid Flush: This is another type of car fluid flush you may never need. Instead, have a mechanic inspect the fluid once or twice a year. Only flush fluids in your power steering system if black grit or metal flakes are present or the substance smells burnt.

  • Radiator Flush: Vehicles produced from about 2011 and on use a newer, orange-colored coolant which does not require frequent radiator flushes and can withstand greater temperatures and has better corrosion protection. In these newer vehicles, consult with your owner’s manual or a mechanic for an appropriate flushing schedule. For other cars and trucks, however, draining the coolant and flushing the radiator should be done approximately every two years.

  • Transmission Fluid Flush: A transmission flush should be performed approximately every 35,000 miles or at the intervals indicated in your vehicle’s owner’s manual. More frequent flushes, however, can actually harm the transmission, so be leery of quick-lube businesses trying to make an up-sale. Also, any time you get a transmission flush, be sure that the filter is changed as well.

As you can see, there are as many ways to flush car fluids as there are fluid varieties, each with its own flushing needs. If you are in doubt as to whether your vehicle needs a fluid flush, our mechanics are available for consultations and can even perform any required flushes for you without any fuss.


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Chris

21 years of experience
1861 reviews
Chris
21 years of experience
Mini Cooper Clubman - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Silverado, California
He arrived early, went straight to work, and it should have been quoted higher as it’s a Mini which takes longer than the average break job. He didn’t try to get more than the quoted amount. He even set out to replace a running light for me when he was finished. I thought there would hard sales telling me I needed more work but there wasn’t. Because he didn’t try to sell me more work, I will use him again. When I hired a mechanic I don’t want a salesman. 
Land Rover Range Rover Sport - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Irvine, California
Chris again has provided great Service. Everything was great. I was very happy with the work and will definitely have him return for any other work.

Bryant

11 years of experience
408 reviews
Bryant
11 years of experience
Ford Fusion - Brake Pads Replacement (Front, Rear) - Indianapolis, Indiana
Bryant has done great work on my car before, the latest work is no exception. He's very flexible, and goes the extra mile to get you back on the road.
Scion iA - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Carmel, Indiana
This is my first time using this service. I am very happy with it. Bryant was very knowledgeable and did quality work. I will use this service more regularly.

Edmar

21 years of experience
184 reviews
Edmar
21 years of experience
Chrysler 200 - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Euless, Texas
Edmar always does a very good job. He's done a few different things on my car the last two years. Each job was performed very fast and top quality. Thank you once again.

Mazyar

7 years of experience
255 reviews
Mazyar
7 years of experience
Jaguar XF - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Lawrenceville, Georgia
He was early, courtesy and actually helped me save some money since i didn't need all the work that i thought i needed done. Honest guy. Very knowledgeable. Great attitude.

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