Q:I saw your column in the Republic (SE Valley Living Section) and thought I’d send you a question. Earlier this year during routine service of my 2003 Honda CRV, I was informed the front shocks were leaking and to replace them, the cost would be about $700-$800. I thought that was extremely expensive. In other cars I’d paid around $200 maybe. Perhaps because the CRV is front wheel drive, the CRV work would involve more labor – thus cost? What do you think? By the way, the car only had about 60,000 miles on it. I saw no sign of leakage on my garage floor. Nor did I see any sign of cuffing on the tires. I only agreed to the work because of my extended warranty which covered the cost excluding a $50 deductible. If you have another moment, what’s your opinion on what mileage to change power steering and brake fluid? Thank you, Bill D., Apache Junction, AZ.
A: Bill, Let’s start with your first question. Your 2003 Honda CRV is equipped with front struts instead of shocks. Struts are an integral part of the front suspension and usually are more costly to replace than standard shocks. The labor is more involved when replacing a strut verses a shock, as you have to remove the assembly and disassemble the spring then reassemble again. And, the unit itself is more expensive than a standard shock. The price you were quoted seems to be in line with industry standards for parts and labor, plus front-end alignment after the work was completed. Sixty-thousand miles in not unusual for strut replacement. As for leakage, most of the time what a shock or strut leaks would not make it to the floor, so you won’t usually see leakage in your garage from these parts. As for your question on brake fluid exchange and power steering fluid exchange services, most professionals would agree on changing your brake fluid and power steering fluid every 30,000 miles. There are test strips available to check for fluid discoloration and a visual inspection is necessary to determine if needed. One of the main properties of brake fluid is that it absorbs moisture in the system, so periodic fluid changes will prevent any premature failure of hydraulic brake components. It’s always best to change the fluids before they get dirty or contaminated to receive maximum life to the component.