Changing Brake Fluid

courtesy of Bob, The Auto Answer Man

Hi Bob,
We own a 96 Pontiac Transport Van with 39,000 miles. My husband had the oiled changed yesterday, and the people there at Firestone told him that he needs to have the transmission oil changed, the brakes bled, and the fuel filter changed. Is this necessary maintenance? Can we change the fuel filter ourselves, or is this something that a mechanic should do? They quoted a price close to $300. I've never had brakes bled that I know of, and it sounds like the old practice of using leeches on people! What do you think?
Judy F

Judy, As far as what service needs to be done to your vehicle at this mileage interval, I suggest that you refer to your owner's manual. In the back there will be a maintenance schedule. It will tell you what needs to be done when in order to keep your vehicle in top operating order. As far as changing the fuel filter, on some models it is located under the car near the gas tank. I also caution that it might be under pressure (around 40 psi). As far as the transmission, I suggest bringing that in to get the fluid and filter changed. It is a messy job, and without the correct equipment, you could spill some and thus contaminate the surroundings. As far as the brakes are concerned, the brake fluid is one of the most overlooked fluids in the car. It should be changed around every 30,000 miles. I want you to go out to your car and look at the brake fluid and tell me what color it is. It should be a yellowish color. I bet that it is either black or brown. This is bad, and I bet that most cars look this way. You see, what happens is that moisture gets into the fluid and sort of oxidizes it. Also, this moisture is bad for the rest of the components in the system. Again, I would have this done by a professional, unless you are competent enough to do it correctly yourself. Since it is your brakes that you are fooling with!! To sum it up, a fuel filter with installation, not more than $20-30, transmission filter, I have seen anywhere from $19.99 to 49.99. To bleed the brakes and change the fluid, maybe $50-75. So to top it off, $150 should cover it. At $300, you better shop around!
Good Luck!
Drive Safely!
Bob, The Auto Answer Man

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