Avoid car repair rip-offs (part 9)

When it comes to repairing your car, how do you avoid the trap of paying for services you don’t really need?

One of the most common ways car repair facilities can rip off unsuspecting customers, is to oversell items – services you don’t need, or don’t need just yet.

This is the ninth in a series of articles, developed exclusively for readers of CARP.ca and 50plus.com by X-Mechanic Inc. that explains how to avoid this trap.

In all, we’ll cover 14 separate items that are prime candidates for being oversold.

#9 – Throttle Body Cleaning or Service

The rip-off:
Selling this service to you when not required

What it is:
In a fuel injected engine, the throttle body is the part of the air intake system that controls the amount of air flow that enters the engine. It is usually located in between the air filter and the intake manifold and often attaches to the mass air flow sensor. The largest piece inside the throttle body is the throttle plate which is a butterfly valve that regulates the airflow to the engine. When the driver presses the accelerator pedal, the throttle plate opens, which allows more air to enter the engines intake manifold. There is a throttle position sensor or a mass air flow sensor or meter that measures this change and this results in the vehicle’s computer increasing the amount of fuel being sent to the fuel injectors in order to increase the speed. Throttle bodies often contain valves such as the idle air control valve that helps the engines computer stabilize the engine’s idling speed.

What the service consists of:
The throttle body service or throttle body cleaning consists of the mechanic spraying an air intake cleaning solution on the throttle plate to clean carbon build up and usually the mechanic will remove the idle air control valve and clean the carbon off of it as well. If the vehicle uses a mass air flow sensor or air flow meter, the mechanic should also clean it as part of this service.

When should you have it done?
In our opinion, it is not necessary to have this done on a regular basis. If the car runs fine and doesn’t stall or idle rough, then we don’t recommend you have this service performed. Your hard earned dollars can be better used somewhere else.

There are only two exceptions to this rule:
1. In the rare event that the manufacturer recommends it at a certain interval in your owner’s manual that came with your vehicle. (Not the dealer, whose “advisors” are on commission).

2. If you notice that your vehicle runs rough at idle or stalls at idle

With these two exceptions, don’t let them sell you a throttle body cleaning or service.

The views expressed in this article belong to X-Mechanic Inc and are not necessarily those of 50Plus.com.


About X-Mechanic Inc.: X-Mechanic Inc. is a national service that will re-negotiate your car repair estimate, before you have the repairs done, and save you money. If they save you money, you pay them 40% of the savings – to a maximum of $200. If they can’t save you money, you pay nothing.