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Do Non Dealer Repair Shops Stock Car Specific Fluids?
Old 12-06-2015, 10:20 AM   #1
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Do Non Dealer Repair Shops Stock Car Specific Fluids?

While driving my Honda the other day, the maintenance meter warning came up meaning to bring the car in for a host of checks (brakes, fluid levels).

I don't like bringing my car a dealer for service. But the manual states to use only Honda specific fluids. Upon reading to see if this is some sort of ploy to upsell, I say not.

So, my question is, if I bring my car in to a non-dealer for the maintenance and if say I need to change the brake fluid (which I do this time around according to the manual), do non-dealer shops have them usually have them in stock?

I'll call tomorrow to check, but would like to hear about your experiences in the meantime.
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Old 12-06-2015, 10:26 AM   #2
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My car guy DH says fluids are fluids. BTW, synthetic oil is the way to go. Change it every 10,000 miles.
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Old 12-06-2015, 01:19 PM   #3
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I think it depends. For instance, coolant can be very specialized and it may be poor economy to use a generic coolant, ditto transmission fluid. I think motor oils have to be compatible as well as brake fluid.
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Old 12-06-2015, 01:22 PM   #4
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The only special fluids on a Honda are Honda CVT Transmission fluid and Honda Power steering fluid. Everything else is generic, just meet the API, DOT etc, specification.

The Honda power steering fluid is different, however a few aftermarket oil co's make it , specifically for Honda on the label. It doesn't cost more than the generic stuff. Newer cars are going to electric power steering so that will be a thing of the past soon.

The Honda cvt transmission fluid is specific. It was developed by honda after a lot of failures of the early honda cvt automatic.
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Old 12-06-2015, 01:44 PM   #5
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Thanks for the responses. However, my original question isn't so much what fluid works or not but if I want a Honda type fluid, do non-dealers already have them in stock?

For example, if I bring my Honda car in to a non-dealer and say, it needs transmission fluid, do non dealer shops tend to have the fluids there to use? Or would they have to make a special order from a dealer? Or run someone over to a place like Autozone to pick up the proper fluid?
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Old 12-06-2015, 02:32 PM   #6
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The maintenance meter warning on a Honda and just about every other car built today is just reminding you to get an oil change.

In the case of a Honda, special Honda manual transmission fluid needs to be changed every 2nd or 3rd oil change. I can see where their CVT tranny would also use a special fluid, but I don't know the frequency needed.

My family has owned a couple of Honda dealerships, and I worked for a major auto manufacturer for 24 years. Go find yourself a high quality independent mechanic shop and you'll come out ahead. If you go into a dealership to get a 24,000 mile checkup or a 48,000 mile checkup and they'll make mince meat of your pocketbook.

The only time I'd see a Honda dealer is to get a camshaft belt installed--if the independent mechanic shop cannot do the job.

As far as special fluids, go to Amazon.com to order them. You'll save substantial money and it's easier getting UPS to deliver the order.

We have a Civic SI, and I do all service myself. Sometimes laying under the car watching fluids drain is enjoyable and peaceful. And I always like to save money.
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Old 12-06-2015, 03:06 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by easysurfer View Post
..............For example, if I bring my Honda car in to a non-dealer and say, it needs transmission fluid, do non dealer shops tend to have the fluids there to use? Or would they have to make a special order from a dealer? Or run someone over to a place like Autozone to pick up the proper fluid?
I think it varies, some shops may stock the OEM fluids and some may use a generic fluid that they feel is "good enough". I recently was looking for Motorcraft Gold coolant and couldn't find it in any auto part store, so I ended up buying it on Amazon. I'd never take a chance on a vital fluid like transmission fluid even if I had to spend more for the OEM stuff. Most independent shops will let you provide the fluids.
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Old 12-06-2015, 03:28 PM   #8
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If you have an automatic trans, I'll stick the Honda fluid for the trans.

The power steering also needs to be OEM.
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Old 12-06-2015, 04:16 PM   #9
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A reputable non-dealer will have a compatible fluid in stock that meets or exceeds the manufactures specifications.

Fluids are fluids. They may have DOT specs, or MIL specs, or other fluid specs. Honda doesn't make fluids, they make specs for fluids. Other cars will use similar fluids.

As long as the fluid meets the specs, all will be well.
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Old 12-06-2015, 04:20 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by easysurfer View Post
For example, if I bring my Honda car in to a non-dealer and say, it needs transmission fluid, do non dealer shops tend to have the fluids there to use? Or would they have to make a special order from a dealer? Or run someone over to a place like Autozone to pick up the proper fluid?
Probably not. If they specialize in imports they probably do but I've seen the vehicle dealer using generic coolant instead of vehicle specific. The specific fluids most likely wont be carried by autozone, oriellys etc. ( at least I never see the ones I need )

Beck-Arnley make a line of OEM after market fluids, I've used. by Vechicle Make | Beck/Arnley Genuine OE Fluids

Or get it from the dealers, But I DIY. Ask your independent shop about it, you can probably bring them the specific fluids if they dont have it.
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Old 12-06-2015, 08:27 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by easysurfer View Post
Thanks for the responses. However, my original question isn't so much what fluid works or not but if I want a Honda type fluid, do non-dealers already have them in stock?

For example, if I bring my Honda car in to a non-dealer and say, it needs transmission fluid, do non dealer shops tend to have the fluids there to use? Or would they have to make a special order from a dealer? Or run someone over to a place like Autozone to pick up the proper fluid?
I doubt they have most of the fluids in stock, but they get deliveries (or pick ups) from parts places every day. If you go to a reputable repair shop and tell them you want Honda fluids, they'll get them and use them. They might have some, like the above mentioned CVT transmission fluid, but not most of them. If you doubt whether they'll use the right stuff, just ask for the empty bottle.
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Old 12-06-2015, 08:30 PM   #12
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I doubt they have most of the fluids in stock, but they get deliveries (or pick ups) from parts places every day. If you go to a reputable repair shop and tell them you want Honda fluids, they'll get them and use them. They might have some, like the above mentioned CVT transmission fluid, but not most of them. If you doubt whether they'll use the right stuff, just ask for the empty bottle.
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Old 12-06-2015, 08:37 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by easysurfer View Post
...
So, my question is, if I bring my car in to a non-dealer for the maintenance and if say I need to change the brake fluid (which I do this time around according to the manual), do non-dealer shops have them usually have them in stock?

...
IMHO, yes.

BTW, how many months/years is Honda suggesting for a brake fluid change? Miles don't really matter.
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Old 12-06-2015, 08:42 PM   #14
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IMHO, yes.

BTW, how many months/years is Honda suggesting for a brake fluid change? Miles don't really matter.
I went ahead and just ordered from Amazon some Honda branded brake fluid and requested (place is closed, but did so online so should hear back in the morning) an appointment for Thurs saying I plan on bringing in the Honda specific brake fluid.

For my car, Honda suggest every three years for a flush, regardless of miles.
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Old 12-07-2015, 07:31 AM   #15
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That's what I've always done Easysurfer. For my wife's Accord, I just buy the fluids from the dealer, or Amazon, and take them to whatever shop is doing the work for me. Even if the shop says they can provide the fluids, I bring them myself anyway. That's not for engine oil though.
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Old 12-07-2015, 07:48 AM   #16
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I went ahead and just ordered from Amazon some Honda branded brake fluid and requested (place is closed, but did so online so should hear back in the morning) an appointment for Thurs saying I plan on bringing in the Honda specific brake fluid.
Honda brake fluid is a DOT3 fluid. That means, the Department of Transportation has created specs that the fluid complies with. It is the same DOT3 that has been used since the 60s, or prior. The repair shop would likely buy the brake fluid in a larger drum, not a pint bottle.

There is a DOT3, DOT4 and a DOT5. DOT4 is a better brake fluid than DOT3 as the boiling point is higher. DOT4 is interchangeable with DOT3, although if your vehicle recommends a DOT4, stick to that.

DOT5 is a silicone fluid, and is not as interchangeable. It is a different animal.

Honda buys a bunch, adds their label, and marks the price up. It is no different than the generic stuff you buy on the shelf next to it, only the generic stuff is MUCH cheaper.
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Old 12-07-2015, 07:56 AM   #17
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You may have problems.....I know people that did..............a repair shop changed to a non brake fluid......stupid mistake.......if you go back for warranty work and the repair shop didn't do it correctly.....no warranty.....friend had to pay thousands of dollars for new transmission.....fought with dealer....fought with factory......repair shop said "tough sh**".....sad situation.......doesn't happen that often....ask repair shop the cost to change fluid....call dealer and ask if will match price....many of them will.....my dealer will match cost for comparable products.....if product not comparable, do you still want it?
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Old 12-07-2015, 08:00 AM   #18
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The answer is often, "it depends"... In my experience, if you take your car into a factory shop (e.g. take a Toyota to a Toyota dealer) then you are going to get the manufactures "stuff". If you take it to an independent dealer/repair shop you'll probably get another brand but it should be "the equivalent". I do most all of my own maintenance and typically use equivalent (or better) fluids, filters etc and have never had issues. In my experience the equivalents are better and often cheaper.
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Old 12-07-2015, 08:06 AM   #19
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Here's an interesting recent investigation on oil change shops caught "cheating".
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Old 12-07-2015, 08:11 AM   #20
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Here's an interesting recent investigation on oil change shops caught "cheating".
Another reason why I do my own oil changes. And if you bring in your own, watch them like a hawk.
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